Blog & Teknologi Manusia (2)

Thursday June 23, 2005
Appealing to old and young alike
BY BRIGITTE ROZARIO
DOES the Internet solely belong to professionals and the youth? It may have in the past. But this is no longer the case.
The Internet today belongs to everyone – the working profes¬sionals, the elderly, the disabled and the young ‘uns too. Perhaps those who find it hardest to understand and learn to use are the senior citizens.
Not because the Internet is not user-friendly but because there is a general fear of the computer.
Senior citizens in general are afraid that if they press the wrong button, the computer will “spoil” or that they will let in all manner of evil such as viruses, spybots and spam.
Surprise!Retired chief executive offi¬cer David Wong, 81, was very reluctant to learn to use the computer. His daughter kept asking him and his wife if they would like to take over her old computer.
Wong consistently declined as he felt he was “too old.”
However, after a trip to Scotland to visit another daughter, the Wongs returned to find a computer set up in their home. Their eldest daugh¬ter had taken the opportunity to set it up while they were out of the country.
“It was staring me in the face and I gradually came to use and love it,” says Wong.
He uses the Internet and e-mail to keep in touch with his children in Scotland, England and Hong Kong, as well as with friends all over the world.
He also enjoys surfing to sites like the BBC where he gets the latest international news. Also, he does not subscribe to pay TV (Astro), so Wong relies on the Internet for news.
When his computer was on the blink recently, he found him¬self having to do without the Internet for more than five weeks. This was a source of frus¬tration for Wong as he was no longer in touch with family and friends. When the computer finally did come back, his e-mail address book and browser favourites were wiped out.

“The Internet has been a joy as well as a great frustration to me. Frustration when I couldn’t e-mail or surf the Net when the computer was down,” says Wong.
Nonetheless he is full of praise for this great technological enabler and equaliser. “It would have been a great tool for people at work if we had had it (when I was working) because there are so many sources of information that one can garner from on the Net,” he says.
He keeps trying to persuade his wife and friends to try surfing the Internet. “It is very useful in keeping you active as well. The difficulty lies in the reluctance to learn. Once I got down to it I found it fascinating,” he adds.
The expertTan Chet Wah, 65, is a retired executive in the private sector. He uses the Internet mostly to e-mail and contact friends.
“I am not an IT man. I am just a user,” he says humbly, while admitting that sometimes his friends call him when they run into problems with their computers.
The solution is sometimes a small matter, he adds grinning.
“At the moment I use the Internet to get the news. My homepage now is the share market watch at The Star Online,” says Tan.
He also surfs to the Bernama site for local news, while the BBC and CNN give him international news.
Although he also buys the newspapers, Tan finds the online versions “better” as there are fewer distractions on the page.
“I also pay all my bills online. And I get all my health information and news on alternative medicine, as well as sports updates.”
An avid golfer, Tan sometimes follows live golf tournaments online.
“The Internet is our window to the world and the world has shrunk in that sense,” says Tan.
Resources and recipesRetired government servant Jenny Williams, 61, goes online almost every day. She surfs the Net for information on everything including religion and recipes.
If I want to check anything, I go straight to the Net, admits Williams.
She is a self-taught surfer who says that seniors should not be afraid of the computer even if it breaks down. “Just call the technician,” she says. “Even though we are senior citizens, we should still know something about modern technology, if not for work then for personal use. “Don’t say that you can’t learn. If I can (learn), then you can too!”
William says that senior citizens should not just sit at home idly; they should go on the Internet as it keeps them busy and keeps them active.
Whatever-lah!While the seniors are more conservative and reserved, children under 12 tend to be fearless. Can we blame them? They grew up not knowing of a time when there was no Internet and no computers. The Internet is part of their daily lives, just like the library and land-line phones were a part of ours.
On a recent visit by In.Tech to SK Convent Bukit Nanas 2, we discovered that children 12 and below found the Internet as much a part of their daily lives as handphones, short message service (SMS) and video-conferencing.
While not all of the five girls we spoke to could remember the URL for their websites, they all said they would want to build another website in the future.
“It’s fun,” they chirped, almost in unison.
These girls – Fara Diana Khairuddin, Faridah Faiz, Adibah Shahrum, Sonia Ashley and Fatin Syahiera – are in Year Five and Year Six.
They have no idea what HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is, but they looked at this writer strangely when asked whether building a website was easy. They’re at that age – the things they take for granted are things we adults struggled with.
After all, every primary pupil today is exposed to the computer. And building websites is just a matter of signing up at any of the free webhosting sites and using wizards and templates. It’s just a matter of point and click. While most of these girls have their sites just for fun, Faridah seems to be the most serious, using her site to chat with friends and put up her latest news in a blog. She says she’s even made one or two new friends through her site.
All these girls e-mail their relatives and friends, while video-conferencing parents who travel is also the norm.
It’s a new generation – handphones, PCs, the Internet, SMS, MMS (multimedia messaging service) and technology are all part and parcel of the average day.
As a computer graphics animator once said, technology has succeeded when people don’t notice the technology.

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