Friday, 29 March 2013

#348: Techno-Grannies

We have just acquired a Google tablet, a Nexus 7.   Like iPads and other similar devices, it is able to serve as an e-reader for books purchased online, or downloaded for free from the public library through Overdrive.  

Overdrive is the Big Daddy of library e-book providers all over the world (even in New Zealand, as I discovered this time last year), so it was Big News when they recently announced an even easier way for tablet owners (me, me!) to access e-books and read them in their browser without any additional software. This new option is called Overdrive Read, and according to the Overdrive bloggers who are promoting this new service it is simple enough for your grandmother to understand 

Sheesh.  How is it that by virtue of being over 65 and having a grandchild,  I seem to have stepped into an alternate universe where I am suddenly considered stupid? 

Indignant as I am, I do admit that old people are not the first to embrace the latest techno-craze.  They are not tweeters and they rarely text.  In a movie theatre, they do not have to rummage for their cell-phones; the phone is already OFF.  

But if older folk seem reluctant to embrace some aspects of a digital lifestyle it is not necessarily because of perceived difficulties.  It is because some techno-behaviours just seem pointless.  Why would anyone bother with something if it just seems silly?  I know 90-year-olds who understand tweeting, but cannot, for the life of them, imagine what they would share in 140 characters.  If they really wanted to tell someone Did seated exercises, but elbow acting up.  Lunch so-so. Soup too salty.  Watched birds at feeder.  Played euchre with Doris, they would pick up the land line.
In 20 years of trying to encourage older library users to make friends with computer technology, I have heard many reasons for techno-avoidance:

I don't have the money for all those gadgets
I don't need to follow every fad
I have better things to do with my time and energy
I'd rather have real [not Facebook] friends
I'd rather read real books [not e-books]
These excuses are still out there, but I hear them less and less.  That was then.  Now, most of my young-elderly (65-75 year old) friends own desktops and laptops. Many also have tablets and e-readers.   They have email accounts and they Google like crazy. Some even text their kids and grand kids, and a few are on Facebook where they enjoy the jokes, games and pictures. But they are selective: Skype, yes.  Tweeting, no.  If the "app" fits, they wear it.  Otherwise, why bother?

"Appy" Holidays:  4 old people, 8 devices.
Last week, I attended a Tech Talk at the library for those interested in downloading e-books and audiobooks to dedicated e-readers and tablets.  Over 20 people were in attendance, and they were all over 65.  There were 3 guys, and the rest were women. probably grandmothers,  They seemed to be understanding everything perfectly well.

Overdrive, are you paying attention?





  1. Bravo, Nancy. You are a great voice for grandmothers.
    It's an intersting time. I am so tempted by the range of devices avialbel, but I do know myself enough to know that a lot of my desire is pure acquisitiveness.
    However, there also comes the time when one wonders if one is crossing the line to becoming a Luddite.
    Now that I'm a grandmother I am rather sensitive to the possibility of being accused of this.

  2. There is nothing wrong with acquisitiveness, especially if it is something you will either use or enjoy. Like shoes.

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  4. HI Nancy, happy to have found your blog. I just gave a talk on technology with a colleague ... we touched upon different generations and their use of computers and stuff... the "digital immigrant" vs. "digital native" debate...this post and others here are of great interest. Thanks!