Monday, July 21, 2008
  Internet use and aging
Mary Hess linked to this, in the original the headlines almost shout ;)
New Study Released By The Center For The Digital Future and AARP Shows Internet Users 50+ Are Rapidly Closing the Digital Divide with Booming Online Activity
News Release
June 19, 2008
Think about it people, round these parts "the Internet" became popular from the early nineties. The early nineties is now ten to fifteen years ago. People who are now just 50+ were then just 35-40+ is anyone really surprised that they actually use the Internet? I'm now 60+ and I've been publishing content and using "social networking" sites and email groups (a surviving pre-Web 2.0 social networking technology) since the early to mid nineties... Back then I did not feel particularly old to be involved, the surprise would be if few people in the 50-70 age bracket were making significant Internet use.

Mary's response was politer than mine, but she seems equally unimpressed by this totally unsurprising research.

This was a "dog bites man" headline. About as much of a surprise as being told that Winston Peters was economical with the truth!

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Friday, March 21, 2008
  Interesting project on aging and interactive writing
Ben, on the if:book blog linked to a really interesting project. Ashton Applewhite a staff writer at the American Museum of Natural History, who has previously written a book the conventional (solo author in a study) way, is writing her next book online. She has a blog "So when are you going to retire? Octogenarians in the workforce" on the site she has information about her research, snippets of audio and stories she is collecting. I find that the audio clips add a richness to the written posts, like this one Cornelius Reid — “That’s what kept him going.” It's a lovely, thought-provoking, post, but the short clip of Cornelius makes it come alive. Definitely a blog I'll subscribe to, who knows, one day I may comment, and one of my comments may help Ashton tweak some aspect of her ideas and so her book.

Now that's a fine project: a worthwhile, valuable, interesting blog; where the comments and email correspondences that a blog attracts will assist the writer with her project, not only that but as the author explained to Ben in an email, it could even make commercial sense:
I also think i'll end up with a valuable platform for leveraging and disseminating my work over the long run — one that could radically revise conventional notions of shelf life. Cutting Loose, my book about women and divorce (HarperCollins, 1997) is still in print; imagine what sales would look like if it were at the hub of an ongoing social network, and what a rich site that would be?
The early adopter in me, however, wonders - just a little - what the point of the print edition will be... especially in the light of all the rave reviews of Amazon's proprietary (lock you in to us as your supplier), pay as you go (even for "converting" your own PDFs), expensive (and not even available) Kindle over at Lifehacker ;)

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Friday, January 04, 2008
  Seniors and gadgets
Dave Warnock drew my attention to the post by Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing HOWTO make a Senior Remote with only five big, friendly buttons such a simple neat and useful idea. But why, oh why does no one manufacture the things? Cory's post is itself drawing attention to the original (I think) by anonymous on Indestructibles
Senior Remote
Mod your mom's TV remote to make it senior friendly.
My mom was born in 1931. She is from the generation of radio and WWII. Her eyesight is failing and she isn't good with anything electronic. TV remotes confuse her. This mod came to me after she called me one day, claiming her TV remote stopped working. It turns out, she inadvertently hit the button that activated the VCR functions. She didn't know or couldn't see the button to reactivate the TV functions. So I decided to "dumb" down the remote to only three functions: On/Off, Channel and Volume.
Which reminded me of another simple modification to an electronic gadget which could make it user friendly for older folk. An MP3 player with big buttons, and ideally a bigger screen font. I first explained in 2005 why I'd like to find a source for these. If they were cheap enough I'd buy 50 or 100. But no one seems to make them, and it has to be a small mod to make a cheap MP3 player user friendly for a whole new market. Add Librivox for talking books, add PodBible for talking Bible... or as Dave wants to add recordings of the service for shutins... the possibilities are huge. So, why does no one make them?

My post back then "Tim needs an MP3 player with large buttons" was in response to an amusing meme from Maggi Dawn, incidentally several of the real candidates still appear, Tim [still] needs help and a theme... plus ca change...

PS Back in 2005 I wrote: BTW if you choose to run with this meme, could you please quote the phrase "Tim needs an MP3 player with large buttons" as I'd love to see that come up top on Google when some other Tim decides to try the meme! Who knows a manufacturer might see one of those posts and actually make one! I'd like to still echo that, both to please make the link, and the hope that some manufacturer might see and take note - there is a market for these things.

Update: So, players with big simple buttons exist, designed for pre-schoolers. The Fisher Price one is a bit on the expensive side and I can't see an NZ stockist, some of the US stores have cheaper ones though, so I'll look when I am in Thailand unless someone can point me to a suitable source here.
Thanks to Stephen and Anonymous (though your DSE link did not work for me bringing up other products :(

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