Success at Work : Techniques : Computer Literacy
It's hard to believe that there are people in today's workforce who don't know
how to use a computer. In today's society, being computer illiterate is
equivalent to being functionally illiterate. Obviously no one reading this
article is computer illiterate, but maybe you know someone who thinks they can
avoid computers and still be successful at work.
Let me tell you a story about a good friend of mine back when I worked at Motorola.
The company moved the manufacturing of automobile alternators offshore, resulting
in his transfer to my department. Although he had about 20 years with the company,
this was to be his last stop before being booted out the door.
He was assigned to me as an Electronics Technician, and the first assignment that
I gave him was to lay out a small printed circuit (pc) board. It was a tiny circuit
for a tester, so computer drafting was not required. He could just sketch it out
on paper. After several days, he came back to me explaining that he didn't have
the technical ability to lay out a pc board.
An Electronics Technician that couldn't lay out a simple pc board? Don't all
Electronics Technicians make little hobby circuits at home? At least all the
technicians I knew did.
I explained that he needed to draw outlines of the components and then use the
schematic to draw lines between the components connections. Then, maybe rearrange
the components if that would result in fewer crossing paths. I also explained
something much more profound, how to deal with the complexity of technology.
Many people, when they come into contact with technology, consider themselves
too stupid to deal with it. Technology is only for geniuses and geeks. Sometimes
technology is too complex, but it's not because people are stupid, it's because
the technology is poorly designed.
For example, take software, like a graphics program, spreadsheet or database. Is
the intended user of the software a computer programmer, or an average person?
These applications are intended for use by an average person. If an application
is too complex for the average person, the application is at fault - not the user.
Why are most computers and software applications too complex for the average person?
Because they are designed by programmers who are under pressure to get the product
out the door. Does the application have simple, easy-to-use help files? Software
developers consider help files even less important than application usability.
line is, people are not stupid - computers and software applications ARE too complex.
In today's world, where workers are required to use computers and technology,
how can they deal with the complexity? Back to the story about my friend at Motorola.
After receiving my instructions, he successfully completed the pc board layout. I
then introduced him to Computer Automated Engineering (CAE). I showed him how to
drag electronic components from a library, use the mouse to draw circuit paths,
make the computer simulate the function of the circuit, and then make the computer
layout a pc board for the circuit.