What’s Wrong with Most People?

I remotely participated in a couple BloggerCon IV sessions this past weekend. I’m still a little in awe of how immersive the combination of IRC and streaming audio – kudos to the Dave Winer and the other organizers for bringing in the rest of the world.

Somewhere in the Niall Kennedy-led ‘Standards for Users’ session a bit about ‘most people’ not understanding technology (specifically RSS) came up.

According to 2005 population counts, China and India have a combined total of 2.3 billion citizens.

Chances are, if you’re reading this right now, you’re not ‘most people’. That’s OK. No one has ever solved a problem for most people. Problems are solved for very small niche groups – sometimes, when we get real lucky – more people (if not ‘most’) benefit. Curb cuts in the sidewalk originated to help those in wheelchairs – baby strollers, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, and grocery carts also benefitted. OXO Good Grips were originally designed to help those with arthritis – they’ve also helped me.

Though BloggerCon is a ‘users’ conference – the distinction between users & developers is horribly blurred. Thanks to technologies like RSS – and unlike automobiles and other electronics – that simplify without obscuring the inner-workings.

It’s not that most people need to intuitively understand a technology – it’s that they can tweak it, build-upon-it, to easily make their specific situation better.

On a related note, ‘Explaining RSS in 5 Minutes’ sounds like an excellent exercise.

UPDATE: Eric Rice wins for the Most Creative explanation.