Monday, September 12, 2011

"Electronic literacy"

From Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic, in conversation with Dan Russell, a search anthropologist (what the hell is a search anthropologist and how do i become one?) with Google:
"90 percent of the US Internet population does not know [about ctrl+f]. This is on a sample size of thousands," Russell said. "I do these field studies and I can't tell you how many hours I've sat in somebody's house as they've read through a long document trying to find the result they're looking for. At the end I'll say to them, 'Let me show one little trick here,' and very often people will say, 'I can't believe I've been wasting my life!'"

I can't believe people have been wasting their lives like this either! It makes me think that we need a new type of class in schools across the land immediately. Electronic literacy. Just like we learn to skim tables of content or look through an index or just skim chapter titles to find what we're looking for, we need to teach people about this CTRL+F thing.

I have my own problem with ctrl+f, though it differs substantially from the phenomenon being described above. I rely on it so much that I find myself reading books - the paper kind - and thinking I should use the ctrl+f function... and needing a second to remember that it doesn't exist. (Similarly, there are times when I'm watching live sports - not even necessarily pro sports, either - where I find myself eagerly awaiting the instant replay.)

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