Friday, June 26, 2009

Including the digitally excluded

There is a lot of chat about enabling the digitally excluded to jump the chasm and reap the benefits of the digital world.

Mostly it is just talk.

Many older people, mainly in their late sixties, seventies and eighties, don’t have the desire, patience or perceived need to get to grips with PCs, Windows and all of the paraphernalia of needed to use the Internet.

I have written about a UK company called Finerday that is trying to make this jump a little easier. Now I have discovered a US company (Famililink) with the same intention and not dissimilar technical approach.

The question niggling me is that if an older person learns enough to be able to use either of these services why will you not go the extra 10% and start using generic software. No doubt somebody will answer that question.

There are very few organisations that are doing the hard work and providing services to help older people take the first steps and get to grips with the wonders of IT.

In the UK, Digital Unite is leader. I wonder if there are equivalents in other parts of the world? Dick Stroud

1 comment:

Inger Rarick, Co-Founder said...

Thanks for bringing up this important topic. Unfortunately there will always be a digital divide between the generations as younger folks adopt technology at a much faster pace than their older counterparts. So, while today social networks, photo/video sharing sites, instant messaging and text messaging can be challenging to many older adults, in the future there will be new communication/IT methods that will be challenging to the older generation. Compounding the situation is that there will always be age-related conditions that prevent older generations from using the Internet and certain technologies the way they use to when they were younger. (Example, arthritis, glaucoma, and different cognitive challenges that arise with age.) Fortunately, FamiliLink plans to continue to work on making technology easier for the older generation to adopt even as new technologies and communication tools evolve.

Today, FamiliLink not only makes communication easier for less tech savvy seniors (empowering them to really enjoy being part of the digital loop), one of our key differentiators is that we also never ask younger, more tech savvy folks to change their current communication behavior. If an adult child or grandchild likes to use Yahoo email, Gmail, IM, Youtube or text messaging, they can continue to use that preferred communication method to stay connected and in touch with their older loved ones who use FamiliLink. Many other sites trying to tackle this problem require all friends and family of the less tech savvy older adult to join the same site and become part of the same "network". At FamiliLink, our goal is to make it easy and convenient for everyone to include our older, less tech savvy loved ones in the digital loop. - Inger Rarick, Co-Founder, FamiliLink