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That Clicking Sound

October 23, 2011

“Click the ‘My Team’ button,” I said to Janet, explaining how to manage her fantasy football team on my phone’s app.

Notwithstanding the fact that I was explaining how to pick up and drop players on a fantasy football team from a cell phone while driving to Atlanta, I realized that I am ripe for being called an out-of-touch old fogey (did using that term just make it self-fulfilling?) or at least I will be within a matter of years if I wasn’t already.

Even though Steve Jobs’ most significant achievement was in revolutionizing the way we interact with technology, there I was stuck in the past using the term “click.” And I am sure that in the world according to the control freak that was Steve Jobs, “click” is not the preferred nomenclature. After all, there is no mouse button to click on an iPhone, so I suppose “tap” or “touch” would be a more accurate term.

Kids today are growing up using terms like “tap” naturally, while people my age and older are stuck in the old vernacular like even older folks using terms like or “clicker” for a remote control (even though they don’t click). And as far as phones go, my generation still uses the term “dial” sometimes, even though I have never even owned a phone with an actual rotary dial on it (Hell, we hardly even input the digits to a phone number anymore, we just tap the person’s name). Some of us still use the term “MP3 player,” when we’re just as likely to be playing AAC files as MP3s. Same goes for the term “rewind” now that there is no cassette tape to physically wind one way or the other.

Technology keeps changing, and as it does, I would hope that we are more thoughtful about the language we use, lest we perpetuate the increasing disconnect between us and understanding how a device works. I guess there’s the argument that I don’t need to know how to build a car engine in order to drive a car. But if a car I was driving ever did start to emit smoke, it’d be nice if more people than just the car manufacturer knew how to fix the problem.

Unfortunately, the dumbing down of users and narrowing range of expertise and understanding might be another significant part of Steve Jobs’ legacy when viewed through the lens of history. Perhaps even more unfortunately, I and millions of others will be complicit in that legacy because apparently I don’t mind being on cruise control with my technology savvy.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 30, 2011 5:03 pm

    I distinctly remember helping an older person navigate something on their desktop and he was “double-clicking” on various links to get where he needed instead of the single click required on hyperlinks (as us newer old fogies know). Every time I heard that second click, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh geez, why the second click!? Why so inefficient?!” The double-click has since normalized to the single-click and as you suggested, people will migrate to “tap” and maybe back to a “command” if Sequoia’s Meeker is right in saying that voice will be the next revolution in how we will interact with our technology.

    Also, remember when people use to say “the world wide web” or start URLs with “HTTP, colon, backslash, double-u, double-u, double-u..?”

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