For years, a highly educated acquaintance pestered me with questions about computers, the Web, email, and any new or old variety of networking technology. Perhaps because I was too eager to provide answers, I often conducted the time-consuming online research for her and responded with what I hoped were easy-to-understand summaries, including links to my sources. I always concluded my tutorial replies by noting, “All of this information is available on the Web.” I never understood why she didn’t take the hint. I’d become the path of least resistance, and I was feeling trodden.
Confess. You’ve felt that way too.
One day, I received a message from my acquaintance expressing her delight and pride at discovering she could enter a carefully worded search term in Google, which swiftly returned to her a list of websites that answered a technical question precisely. Imagine my consternation when I read the explanation of her digital epiphany. At first, I assumed my tactless hints had finally taken some kind of subliminal hold that was at last delivering results. Then, I realized that during the years of our correspondence, I’d been urging a very bright woman to “look up the answer” on the Web before she had any idea what a search engine was or how to use it.
I missed the clues.
Have you had a similar experience? How did you ascertain where to begin your explanations?