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To err is funny January 28, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Lifelong Learning.

client   There are certainly times in my day when work gets very frustrating. It usually boils down to the fact that there are new terms, machines, and basic concepts that people need to work into their way of thinking. I am always impressed that people come to computers with dreams and visions. They know how they want things to look and to be. Then they meet the limitations of computers and must satisfy themselves with something less than what they imagined.

This morning I spent some time reading clientcopia.com, just hitting random quotes from computer service people dealing with what they call stupidity. In many case the humor comes from people who do not realize how things work asking questions of people who have a thorough understanding of how things work. In fact, the stories are not really humorous. They are more of a vent for frustrations or, worse, a change to sound like an IT snob.

My frustration with these kinds of sites is that they snigger at people who know quite a lot about many things, but have become a little muddled about a computer term new to them. It is much more fun to laugh with someone who usually knows a great deal about computers but has made a mistake. Yesterday a colleague grabbed a speaker that was shaped like a champagne glass. He said he needed it for a project but didn’t say any more than that. I wondered why he needed only one speaker. After an hour he came down saying he couldn’t get the microphone he had borrowed to pick up sound. We laughed over that because he could handle it.

Certainly I make dozens of verbal slips each week but I would like to think I learn from my mistakes. I still laugh inside at people who print e-mail and hand the printed copy to co-workers and giggle a little at people who order PowerPoint machines when they mean digital projectors. Computers are changing all the time and the learning curve can be steep at times. The trick is to remember that when someone says something that seems remarkably naïve and silly, it is really their attempt to speak a language that is totally new to them.  



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