The have-nots and how they got that way

I thoroughly enjoyed reading KMD’s rant about Cooper’s view on interaction designers and how they can make the world a better place.  I do agree to a point. I think Cooper is stretching if he thinks bringing interaction design into the beginning of the design/development process instead of the middle or end will really have a profound effect on the gap between the haves and have-nots in our society.  As Kim states, “This world is not a Utopia where everyone is equal.”  Additionally, in Kim’s view designers should not design with the lowest common denominator in mind.  Yes, I think most of us can agree on this.  All software, hardware, websites, etc should not be designed for the person who is truly developmentally challenged in some way.

McDonalds logoHowever, I take a different approach to some of the issues she mentions.  While Kim thinks that, “there will always be people who know and those who don’t. There will always need to be someone who works at McDonalds. Perhaps that will be  “PC-Illiterate-Secretary-Jane”.”  Why don’t we figure out how ‘people who know’ get to be those very people?  And are the people who work at McDonalds there because they want to be, because they are not capable of more intellectually challenging work or sometimes for some other reason?

Let me be bold and categorize myself as a person ‘who knows.’  I am pretty sure I got to where I am because of a solid family support system, growing up in a nurturing safe environment with good education available and some gene pool luck that gave me a brain.  Yes some of it had to do with decisions I’ve made and the work I’ve done.  But who instilled the work ethic in me and gave me guidance to assist in my decision making?  Some people who are born ‘have-nots’ do succeed through perseverance, hard work and sometimes luck.  But these people have to work much harder than someone like me.

It should be a goal in our society to level the playing field.  After all, ‘all men are created equal.’ But not all men are born equal or into equal circumstances with equal opportunities available to them.  By making computers and the software that run them more intuitive, people who are not fortunate enough to grow up with a computer would still be able to compete with the ‘haves’ for jobs that require basic computer skills.

Let’s not take for granted how lucky we are.

  1. Desiree says:

    It seems like you’re oversimplifying a lot of issues here. What if you were born into a nurturing environment 65 years ago? You think you’d be as computer literate?

  2. Kimberly D. says:

    Geez, I sound like a horrible person when you put it that way!!

    But I do want to point out the simple fact that many “have-nots” and those without a support system have succeeded, so in effect the nuture vs nature debate doesn’t hold up.

    I think leveling the playing field is an admirable goal. “Not all men are born equal or into equal circumstances with equal opportunities available to them” is true and accurate. And this world’s “haves” do have a responsibility to help others where they can.

    Though technically, if you and I are “haves”, we can question how we got here. Perhaps it was, in part due to our support system, but I believe it is more about the choices and decisions we’ve made and ownership of our actions rather than placing the blame on someone or something else.

  3. admin says:

    No I wouldn’t be computer literate but I’d certainly still be better off than an orphan with no educational opportunities available to them.

  4. admin says:

    I have to agree with Desiree in that I did over-simplify the issue. There are many people who overcame great odds to succeed (look at our president and newest Supreme Court Justice for example) but I think these people are the exception rather than the rule. My argument is that it was easier for us to get where we are. If I had been born in the South Bronx to a drug-addicted single mother, the likelihood of me ending up here is slim (and by ‘here’ I don’t mean to imply I’m some kind of amazing success, but I am happy and employed and not wondering how I’m going to pay for my next meal).

    And if you think I made you sound like a horrible person, I made myself sound like a bleeding-heart liberal which I’m not happy about either. I think there’s a happy medium out there with regards to these kinds of debates. It doesn’t have to be either extreme: giving people who don’t earn it, everything vs giving them nothing. Hand up rather than hand out kind of thing. Just don’t raise my taxes to do it. :>)

  5. Shana says:

    I know what you mean!! Don’t raise my taxes to do it either. I’m not down with any of that. Our taxes are high enough already. My gawd. I also think that there are may unfair things in this world, but the phrase “level the playing field” gets used far too lightly. Besides, it seems to me that many people don’t really want the playing field leveled, they want it lowered more for one group than another. I’m for equality, not unfair advantages, FOR ANYONE!

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