Three words: Margaret and Helen.
This is why I love technology and why I love doing what I do for part time work — IT Consulting. I have a small group of clients for whom I provide IT services. These range from supporting a small medical clinic, to teaching classes at a local school district for children and adults, to private citizens seeking some one-on-one in-home training for general or specific tasks.
IT Consulting is a broad term that includes a bunch of things technical, but to me, it means I help ordinary people, both young and wiser than me, with Information Technology. I tell them which button to press or which button to click (because there IS a difference) and how the whosawhatsit and why that thingamajig does that thing with the thing that tells the other thing to dial the phone number, sort of, and connect to that machine over there — through "the air" — even though you can't see it or hear it. If requested, I also attempt to explain, in plain English and with a bunch of metaphors and analogies they can relate to — why. I do this all while speaking clearly, slowly, and repeatedly if needed. (Being from the east, sometimes I tend to talk a little too quickly, but I'm working on this!) Most importantly, I try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible about why tech is what it is. If I don't know an answer, I try my best to find one for them. I show them how to modify the settings on their computers so they can enlarge the type and icons to make it easier to see and navigate. Much of what people learn, retain and produce is dependent on how comfortable they are with the tool they are using for the task.
My goal is to simplify complicated processes in the least amount of clicks.
Lucky for them, I'm just old enough to remember rotary telephones and vinyl records. I even know what a victrola is!
(See, I put a hyperlink there for the really young kids in case they're curious hoping linkbait will get them learned!)
This post was insprired by geechee_girl on twitter who linked to a post on Margaret and Helen's blog. I read it as well as the rest of the entire blog (finally! a blog that's more my speed! LOL). Political arguments aside, I was so enamored with Helen and Margaret that it reminded me why I do what I do and inspired me to write a little bit about it.
It's the individual house calls where I feel the most comfortable and have the most amount of fun. Just like their grandchildren who help them out, I too service "senior netizens" and show them how to use their computers. I've even made a mini-career out of it so far. It's a bit of a niche clientele.
I'm like the "rent-a-grandkid" I suppose. I'm the "kid" who comes over when their own kids or grandkids don't have the patience to teach them what they want to know.
Reading Margaret and Helen's blog was very refreshing to me. To think they are over eighty years young and so willing to emrace this technology known as blogging so they can communicate with one another across the country just warms my heart. What am awesome example of social networking this is. I hope more like them will blog about their opinions and life experiences. I think this country needs more of it at times like this. I think they call it wisdom.
They've actually been there and done that. We just make the T-shirts.
Right now, my clients are mostly interested in learning how to work with digital photos and word processing. They've got E-mail down and are still working on navigating the internet using web browsers and understanding what the individual parts are and do. Most of my clients travel frequently and too busy enjoying their retirement to sit very long in front of a computer, but I plan on introducing them more and more to social media tools and blogging resources like Ning, Alltop, Blogger or WordPress, just to quickly name a few.
I might just even have to introduce them to Margaret and Helen, too!