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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox] Fwd: Bill on the radio!
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Re: [vox] Fwd: Bill on the radio!



On Wed, 5 Dec 2001, Ryan wrote:

> You can listen to the live stream with xmms/winamp/any-decent-mp3-player by 
> connecting to http://kdvs.org:8000

And after all that, Bill _was_ on the radio. :)

... and now, some rambling...

The question of simplicity was a fair one, I think.  I liked Bill's
response, too, regarding the need for a support community for all
operating systems.  However, when you honestly look at how
non-computerphiles regard computers, they are very sheep-like, and the
people they know use Windows, so they use Windows.  That is their support
community.

Almost universally, Linux users are willing to use the internet as their
support community, and tend to be literate enough to ask questions in
writing and search for the answers they need with search engines.  There
is a chasm between people who are not comfortable with the internet, or
only have clicked on a few pages in a web browser, versus people who can
compose their thoughts in writing _and use to the Net even when their
problem is with their computer_.  When advocating Linux you can't write
these people off... but you have to keep in mind that they do buy
computers.

My neighbor couldn't figure out how to get going on his newly acquired Mac
Plus the other day. (He didn't have the keyboard plugged in.)  
Folders/directories are a mystery... he nods his head, but cannot find the
file he has saved. He needs a support community, though I think he is
somewhat embarrassed that he does, and he is willing to believe promises
that the computer he uses will be easy to use.  We know all computers
require basic skills but that there is more than one way to do something
(like delete a file). Is it really more intuitive to click on an icon,
move it across the screen while holding the mouse button, and release it
on the trash icon, than to type "rm myfile.doc"?  (How about unmounting a
disk? Drag the disk icon... ;)  No, people are willing to believe it is
true because they aren't used to using keyboards, much less littering
their memory with acronyms that don't make sense at first, if ever.  The
value of "grep" in their world is... dim.  And the value of the Internet
to them is... minimal.  So their meatworld contacts have to support them.

When these people's friends all use Linux, they will use Linux.  Just keep
in mind that the friends in most cases are only marginally more computer
literate than they are, so appeals to "power" and "control" and "reprogram
it if you don't like it" will miss the mark.  All those things are true,
but when Melissa says it is easy to use as long as someone is around to
make it work, that is closer to the important truth.  Even power users
rely on experienced programmers who are familiar with particular source
code to fix problems, simply because there is too much to do to fix
everything themselves.

Convincing the user who doesn't want to be a system adminstrator to learn
_very_ basic sysadmin skills without making a big deal about it is a key,
and programs that lead the "novice" (advanced from my neighbor's point of
view) through these tasks (preferably while giving them an opportunity to
see what their point-and-clicks are doing) will be critical to fooling
them into learning more than they intended to.  They can then informally
support their friends. But until then, the target should be somewhere
below the "power users" and above my neighbor.

I think that when people start seeing Linux in their business environment,
we will make progress with the not-quite-power users.  An advantage of
that environment is that it is more likely to have managed computers, so
people will learn to like Linux/Unix without causing themselves headaches
just trying to get past gaps in their experience.

Absent that, getting people to admit that they all need a support
community, and showing them that Linux is no more difficult to USE than
Windows or the Mac, are the important points.  It sounded to me like the
host was not too enamoured with the idea of "tweaking" the computer, and
was like most people who want to feel like they can accomplish tasks using
the computer that are meaningful beyond the computer itself, without being
a "computer expert" to make it happen.  That a minimum level of competence
is required... well, that is what friends are for, right?

Bravo, Melissa! I think you did great.  Now how many of the six
listeners were LUGOD members? ;)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jeff Newmiller                        The     .....       .....  Go Live...
DCN:<jdnewmil@dcn.davis.ca.us>        Basics: ##.#.       ##.#.  Live Go...
                                      Live:   OO#.. Dead: OO#..  Playing
Research Engineer (Solar/Batteries            O.O#.       #.O#.  with
/Software/Embedded Controllers)               .OO#.       .OO#.  rocks...2k
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