Playing Santa's elf in the digital world

Mr. Claus, aka Santa, has it easy. Sipping eggnog as he gets the dashboard report of who is naughty and who is nice. Elves, on the other hand, frantically run around packing the sleigh. Are you wearing pointy boots and a green party hat with your elf outfit this holiday season?

As wonderful as technology can be, and I truly am passionate about the potential that it holds to help people, it can be “intimidating” to many. I know at least two people who have turned around and sold the new laptop they received from well-meaning family members who wanted them to embrace the digital world. They didn’t sell them because they already had a computer nor because they needed cash; they sold their laptops because they didn’t know where to start!

So my fellow Elves with good intentions of bringing someone into the digital world by gifting a computer, I have a tip for you: consider gifting a tablet instead.

Intuitiveness of a tablet, the “power of one” finger I’ll be talking about in a future article, really does make a difference. Minimizing the intimidation factor by replacing complexity, perceived or otherwise, with intuitiveness of use should make a difference in the acceptance factor. I’ve learned that tasks such as setting up an email address may intimidate someone to a point of paralysis due to the perceived complexity, so setting things up prior to gifting also helps. I know I am over-simplifying but what if they open their gift and the only thing they do is to start enjoying it?

Case in point … my dad has always been the “tinkerer” and it was easier for him to embrace technology; my mom, to this day, will not touch a computer. However everything changed when my brother gave them his old iPhone. My mom saw how less intimidating the touch screen interface was compared to the mouse and keyboard apparatus. That, combined with my brother setting up the necessary email account and the Skype account before giving the iPhone to them, made it more enticing for her to try.

The above phenomenon repeated with my in-laws, living a lifestyle far from technology in the Philippines, when we gifted them a pre-configured tablet (my in-laws never owned a computer and the village didn’t even have a telephone until the late '80s). Within a matter of days, literally, my father-in-law started using the tablet to communicate with us through video chat. No wonder tablets are outselling personal computers as it is more intuitive for everyone, whether technologically savvy or averse!

Finally lets always remember the less fortunate, holidays or otherwise, because they also need an Elf to brighten their holidays. Participate in one of the programs ran by area nonprofits where you can be an Elf to a kid who, without your generosity and your kindness, might not get any gift this holiday season. Happy holidays!

Next issue’s topic: "If Charlton Heston carried a tablet down Mt. Sinai ..."

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 20+ years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 5, Issue 25, Posted 10:45 AM, 12.10.2013