The Net Scale

Sometimes when I talk to people about tech things I get the feeling that they have stopped following. Then I usually ask: “What background do you have, how much tech slang do you want?” The interesting thing is that most of these people don’t answer my question. They seem rather embarrassed to know less than I do which makes it much harder for me to know what to say. If only there was an easy scale to classify people’s tech-knowledge.

Here’s my scale how I measure my parent’s ongoing tech-learning. I am slowly getting them where I want them – at least my mother is now using Mozilla. The next project is an Instant Messenger. So here I present the career of the ‘net kid’

0. Just conceived – knows a computer when she sees one
1. Third month fetus – has heard about the Internet
2. Sixth month fetus – knows where the computer’s power switch is
3. Newborn – knows how to write a text with a word processor on windows
4. Weaned off – knows how to print the text on the printer
5. FIrst steps – knows how to send eMail
6. Screams every night – uses outlook to send eMail
7. Hates baby food – surfs the web with the Internet Explorer
8. Her first word: “One-Click” – buys stuff on Amazon
9. Goes to Kindergarten – buys stuff on eBay
10. Has just learned the letter ‘O’ – uses google
11. First grade, starts to read – uses bookmarks in the browser
12. Just got her first pocket money – uses home or internet banking software
13. Someone gave away the existence of Santa – uses software to do her taxes
14. Secretly uses mommy’s make-up – uses the web for other things than shopping or banking
15. Flunks and exam and doesn’t tell at home – now has an anti-virus software installed
16. Shops for her own clothing – buys stuff on the net outside amazon/ebay
17. Goes to highshool now- regularly receives spam
18. Turned vegetarian (?) – surfs the web with another browser than the IE (by choice!)
19. Endless phone talks with her best friend keep the line busy – uses icq or aim
20. She got her first cellular and a massive bill – uses an instant messenger other than icq or aim
21. Talks about guys all the time – uses the email program’s address book feature
22. First date – Reads news on the net
23. First boy-friend – uses secure passwords (more than one!)
24. Has sex in the back of the car – plays computer games (other than minesweeper and freecell)
25. Get’s really drunk for the first time – has downloaded illegal mp3s
26. 18th birthday – has a website
27. The parents are losing control – uses an imap account to send/receive eMail
28. Starts writing a diary about the guys she likes – has a blog
29. Gets her drivers license – owns a domain
30. Graduates from highschool – uses a linux system to surf the web

My parents are surely never going beyond highschool graduation 🙂 But in a tech environment like my workplace the list should go on and things get much more complicated quickly. So I would need to add college or university years and probably a few years of work to ‘classify’ what people know.

The other day there was someone in my office asking questions. She was from another apartment and wanted to know “everything” about my project. Of course I refrained from boring her with programming details but she wanted to know the inner workings of the process and the algorithms. It drove me crazy when she didn’t answer my questions about her tech background. Later it seemed like she could follow my explanations but maybe she was just good at faking?