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Mom Mode – Trying to Figure User Interaction Part Out

I recently wrote about an issue with user interaction. Since I wrote (and that thought entered my mind) that, I have been unable to get it out of my head. I keep thinking of a few questions.

Can the issue be fixed?

If it can be fixed, what kind of solutions are available?

Which of those are feasible, not just for my mom, but other mom’s (and their sons) who are in the same spaceship as me?

Like a lot of people, I try and look at a problem with an approach that there is usually a solution. At least, some amount of time must be dedicated tackling the issue, document the steps taken and then arrive at a conclusion. One conclusion is that there is no solution. Another conclusion is that there is a solution. It’s not blind positivity. I like to call it, pragmatic positivity. In other words, assume a positive output and then dedicate sufficient time to prove or disprove the assumption.

Going back to the first question, I would like to start off by assuming that the issue can be fixed. A future blog post will either prove my theories or disprove it. Now that I have assumed that the issue can be fixed, I need to look at what I know about the person of interest. In this case, the POI is my own mother. That means, I have years of experience observing her. All the data is in my head. The things I did before I was 4 is completely a blur to me, but I remember most of the important events in my life since I turned 5. Obviously, almost all the important moments have a mom component in them.

In other words, deep within the confines of my mind, I have data about my mom unconsciously logged away. All I need to do is go back in time – inside my head – and look at her interactions with the variety of technology things that she has used. Perhaps I have mentioned this before, but our family comes from a rather poor background. Things like going to the movies was a luxury, as recently as 8 years ago to me. To my mom, even today, she is convinced that only the rich people go to the multiplex or take a taxi cab (something that is part of my daily life since 4 years). That means, she has interacted with things that are low tech, and thanks to my choice of career (computer science, of course), she has interacted some pretty high end stuff too. I remember her reaction when I told her that I have paid roughly 7500 bucks for a keyboard and mouse. It took me quite a while to convince her that the purchase was indeed essential for my work, and I am not some kind of deranged spend thrift.

While recollecting the data about my mom’s interaction with technology will take a while, I know that she is a fast learner. The good book of biology says that genes are passed on from our parents. All through my life, I have noticed that my classmates, my fellow engineers, my work colleagues have always taken longer than me to learn something new. Somehow, my reflexes and my ability to learn new things are just as sharp as they were when I was a teenager. Sure, I may have worked on it but mostly, I think, it’s in my genes, and I got these attributes from my mother. After all, she is the one who taught me English despite herself being a Kannada medium student who did not finish her 10th standard schooling.

All this brings me to a conclusion. To solve the problem of her interaction with cloud services, I must understand that kind of interactions she is currently able to do. At this point, I must already agree that the current interfaces – touch screen and their small sizes – are simply not an option for her. This is a woman who grew up watching a black and white television (with huge knobs for changing channels), which had to thumped on the sides, and the antenna bent and shaped to see something, and now, she has to watch her kids use a tiny smart device that can happily show almost any video on the planet. She has lived through multiple eras of technology and used all of them (and taught me how to use them). Now, I guess, she is at the end of her learning curve.

All in all, till now, the horse would go to the well. Now, I must bring the well to the horse.  

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