Thursday, September 11, 2008

Visit from My Cousin Chuck - Sociology and Geek Alert

So, my cousin Chuck was visiting these last few days. He's actually my dad's first cousin, and about 14 years older than me.

He was in town to give a talk at a national emergency preparedness professionals convention. You know, homeland security, police, fire, emergency responders, etc.

His talk was about Twitter and how emergency responders might consider taking advantage of it. For example, there was an earthquake in California, and a woman tweeted (I'm learning all these new terms; I'm not a user) about 9 seconds after it happened. The information traveled all over for some time before the officials confirmed there had been an earthquake.

We had a family dinner Tuesday night, and with 8 science/technology types in attendance, the talk was exceptionally and wonderfully geeky. Except perhaps for my mom. I can safely say that, because she does not read this blog. If she says something, I will know she has read it :-)

But what was interesting to me, as a user experience professional (in case any of you ever wondered what I did for a living), was my parents' reaction. My dad is a retired engineer, and is not technologically obsolete. But he has it in his head that social networking things are bad, because anyone can post an untruth, and elderly readers in Florida will take it as gospel and pass it on, and... you get the idea.

Plus, one needs a data plan on one's phone to take advantage of this, and he and my mom were not wanting that. It actually sounded like they felt they should just get it for free... "well, our phones don't HAVE that".

Chuck's comment (and mine, and Fitz's and Brian's) was that - no one is forcing you to get this. No one is forcing you to buy it. You don't have to use it. BUT there are many people that ARE using it, and, should there be an emergency, is there a way we can exploit this for the good?

Still not sure it registered. I mentioned that social networking (youTube, blogs, etc) just IS, it is not inherently good or bad. My father's position was that it could be used for bad, and therefore should be, oh, I don't know - regulated.

Not sure where this is going, but it was in interesting journey inside the heads of folks on both sides of a technology divide.

1 comment:

beth h said...

"...a user experience professional (in case any of you ever wondered what I did for a living)..."

That's a JOB?


My sister calls me a "Procurement Expert".