On Being a User

In case you haven’t noticed, our world now runs on software – and we need to take it seriously. Without anyone consulting us about this – we have become users of software. And we should be paying careful attention to how it affects our lives.

But we are no longer able to understand ourselves – the effects of the world on us, and our effects on it. This is an important point – and a lot has been written about it – and I will not write more of my own.

However, Software Designers have clever ways of determining this anyway. They give a user a product or service to test – and watch what he does with it. Does he learn how to use it? How easily does he learn it? Where does he get stuck? Does he like it?

As a result of these tests, the software is redesigned to make it more useful and valuable. Or (more commonly) the company goes out of business.


This is a process, that can be applied to other situations. Give people something to use – and see how it affects them. But time is of the essence – it can take a long time for people to try something out – and often they won’t even bother to try.

For example, Afghanistan. The present government there thought it could modernize the country rapidly (with the military support of the Americans). The Taliban had other ideas – and these have won out. The people there do not want to become modern (and Christian).

In the more developed countries, that had Electricity (at least part of the time) there were exceptions, such as Television and the Cell Phone. Both of these were adopted rapidly – because people could not resist them. They became users of Electricity instantly.

These became our latest drugs.

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