The personal computer is in many ways a rather inaptly named device. From the earliest days computers have been about sociality and community. The staples of everyday computer use, email and internet, are intimately social. As the internet evolves its uses become ever more implicated in relationships between people. Indeed, one of the most widely used piece of web jargon at present – Web 2.0 – refers to designing the web for, and developing with, intensively social uses in mind. In recent years socially oriented websites have become hot properties attracting both significant user communities and venture capital. Facebook, MySpace and many others have become must visit destinations on the information superhighway. For many younger users these sites define what an internet experience is all about. At the same tine the populations of the developed world have begun to experience the rapid ageing of their populations. Can an online world increasingly focused on supporting rich social experience provide realistic avenues for dealing with some of the threats and opportunities that an ageing world presents? How can we use Web 2.0 to support the sort of experiences that older people want to have on- and off-line?
I've got a piece just out in the latest edition of User Experience Magazine (Volume 8, Issue 1, 2009) entitled "Web 2.0 for an Older Population: Exploring the Limits". The article grew out of my sense that whilst everything Web 2.0 is taking the interweb by storm, and that it (?) represents great opportunities for tackling some of the challenges older people face, many of the concepts embedded within Web 2.0 type executions are pretty foreign to older people with little technology savvy – and if something is conceptually difficult to grasp then questions of usability are rather secondary.
Here's the abstract –
It's not available for non-members but if you ask nicely I might send you a copy of it. I submitted a similar, but slighty fuller and more specific paper on the topic to the Include 2009 conference based on some work we did during 2007, written with Nina Warburton from The Alloy. Hope you find it useful/relevant/thought-provoking