Having grown up with a computer (yes, we had a Commodore 64 when I was under the age of ten), I learned early how to type and learned about the web when it was exploding in the mid-nineties. In college I had my own desktop computer and was in chat rooms, looking up information, researching, and trying to figure out how to cite web pages.
My computer only became more necessary over time–and at the moment I have two: a laptop that is on semi-permanent loan and a desktop that was custom built for me by some very cool guys in Flushing, NY. (Seriously—my ex fried my motherboard and within a few days I had an essentially brand new computer with lots of cool extras.)
Coming from this background, it’s a challenge I have to try and remember how to explain computer basics to people. It’s a hurdle I’m going to need to improve on, especially if I’m working with the public. Add to that the difficulty in that we don’t offer any sort of computer classes and a lot of my time is spent creatively explaining to people.
Many of the patrons I get are familiar with the idea of online–they just don’t know how to navigate it. Sometimes they have a website to look up but most frequently it seems that they’ve just typed what they are searching for into the address bar and are trying to go from there. So I end up starting with Yahoo!, Google, Ask and Dogpile to show them a search engine. I believe in using them for known item searches (I need the website for X Company in Y location).
I’ve had mouse lessons, tried to explain the anatomy of the screen that opens when you click on the E (we only have IE….grrrr), and tried to help with generalized searches. It’s a high hurdle though…
Fun fact: My kids think it is incredibly amazing to watch me type. Very few touch type and watching me do so at 70 wpm while I’m still listening and answering their questions fascinates them. It’s fun.