i was wrong. i’ll admit it. In the past, in order to illustrate the need to make something simpler or more “friendly”, i would occasionally use the “Is it easy enough for my Mom to use?” argument. It’s a familiar trope that many folks with family members who struggle to keep up with technology can readily identify with. My Mom is a very talented negotiator and manager, but is not a fan of Apple’s constant need to “improve” things without giving her any idea what those “improvements” are.
And that’s why i’m sorry for using the Mom trope. See, as occasionally frustrated with technology as my Mom is, she uses it. She is, in spite of her protests, actually capable of leaning and understanding technology sufficiently to use it as an effective appliance. She can exchange email with her grandkids, navigate her HMO and other tasks. More importantly, if she makes a mistake, she understands that she can either fix it or ask for help from someone who has more knowledge.
No, the “Is it easy enough for Mom?” is no longer a good metaphor. i’m going to go with a far better one. “Could my Senator understand this?”
You see, my Mom understands that computers are part of the modern technical communications system and is taking an active role in understanding them. She takes the time to experiment, ask questions and learn. This is something that our elected representatives don’t seem to have any desire in doing. i’m not talking about writing code, (although i laughed pretty hard at the “Hour of Code” initiative. Hack days are pretty intense, and at least they have 24 hours. One hour and i could probably teach you if statements and a few kinds of loops. How’s about you learn modern democratic processes in an hour?)
No, we need to revamp our terms to focus on the lowest, least willing participants in the technological architecture, the folks making rules about how tech should work and be used. The folks that assume their phones are magic and can do things like “block porn” or “only allow permissible use of content”.
If we can make something easy enough for Congress to understand, use and value, then we’ve got something.
And at that point, Mom will probably complain about it being dumbed down.