Do You REALLY Understand What It All Means?
Every day we’re confronted with unintelligible processes we’re expected to know. Using the Internet requires learning a whole new language. Be honest. Do you REALLY know what everything you come across every day means? Maybe the true geeks among us understand all the decisions we’re asked to make. Some of them boggle my mind.
I’m talking about things like this prompt I receive when I attempt to get YouTube Videos to work using Ubuntu:
Confirm installation of restricted software. The use of this software may be restricted in some countries. You must verify that one of the following is true:
* These restrictions do not apply in your country of legal residence
* You have permission to use this software (for example, a patent license)
* You are using this software for research purposes only
Hmmm. That doesn’t sound good. Maybe I don’t want to play videos after all. Well, maybe I’ll get chat working instead. I go to Jabber and need to select an End-User Jabber Client. Ok. The purpose of Jabber is “to unleash the power of presence”. Do you feel the need to unleash? I didn’t.
On to more decisions. Which to choose? It looks like PSI is the most popular. It is a GPL. GPL? Ok, let’s look that up. General Public License usually refers to a GNU GPL. Oh, yes, that clears things up. Sure. So we look up GNU and find we need to know what a Linux kernel is.
Wait. Didn’t I just want to get a YouTube video to play and chat with my peers? Do I really need to know what all these acronyms mean? Do I know any more now than I did when I started? I confess that I’ve made a living in the computer world for three decades so all that may make more sense to me than it does to the ordinary individual who simply wants to watch that video!
So maybe this has made sense to the true geeks among us so far. But it gets worse. We choose PSI and are greeted with this end-user-friendly statement:
Psi is a free instant messaging application designed for the Jabber IM network (including Google Talk). Fast and lightweight, Psi is fully open-source and compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. With Psi’s full Unicode support and localizations, easy file transfers, customizable iconsets, and many other great features, you’ll learn why users around the world are making the switch to free, open instant messaging.
What’s that you say? Unicode? localizations? iconsets? I just want to chat with my friends. What DOES all that mean? Ok, the geeks are still on board. The ordinary PC user has learned to ignore geek-speak and gobble-dee-gook and just click on whatever is clickable.
What a call-to-action here: Visit Project Homepage. I don’t want to visit anything. I just want to install PSI. But that is the only button so click it you do. More geek-speak here but Download sounds good so off we go. Look at all those options. If you have Windows or Mac you may get the job done. If you’re new to Ubuntu now what? Well, maybe I didn’t want PSI after all.
So we bring up our trusty Zuula search engine to see if we can figure out how to get Pidgin running. Check out the instructions to install Pidgin. You have GOT to be kidding. No clue. If I have absolutely no idea what to do with all this, imagine the poor Newbie’s dilemma. (That would be a good book title: The Newbie’s Dilemma – if there weren’t already a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma.)
Wait…we don’t have Feisty Fawn; we have Hardy Heron. Let’s try again. We find Enable Pidgin Plugins in Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron). Thank goodness. They’re actually in ordinary English. Maybe we’ll get there after all. The instructions fail to mention going to Applications, Internet, Pidgin and they’re not really about getting it working.
Nothing so far has mentioned where or how to get an account specifically to use in Pidgin. Finally I manage to get an account using IRC by finding AbleNet IRC Network. Finally: success! After I got it working I found Using Pidgin which will be very helpful.
So why didn’t I just use one of the major messengers: AOL, ICQ, MSN, or Yahoo!? I am determined to go totally open source and non-corporate if there is any possible way to do it. Besides, if geek-speak isn’t confusing enough, does anyone REALLY understand the legaleze of all those EULA and TOS agreements we’ve been accepting?
Be honest – do you sincerely believe you KNOW without a doubt what all that stuff means? That there are no hidden agendas in there somewhere? Even if you did, most of them reserve the right to change them at any time so who knows what they say now? Who even reads them?
We really only have two choices: agree or leave. Life’s too short. Let’s just wander over to ProBlogger and check out their new Killer Titles contest.