This advertisement for a local congregation to avail themselves of ‘Rob the computer expert’s’ knowledge intrigues me on a number of levels. On the one hand, it implies we live in an age where access to technology is something under the purview of community organisations which might hitherto have been known for their assistance with more basic needs: meals for the hungry, alms for the poor or spiritual matters. Should we assume an expansion of this particular church’s mandate in an attempt to increase its relevance to people’s daily lives or that technology itself is now seen as a basic need?
To give context, I spotted it on a blustery evening walking home through my village, a place which sits between sea, marshes and fields. On a weekday evening when the wind was making the sheets of the sailing boats sing, I’d seen perhaps three other people in the course of an hour’s walk. This is a place where the demographics tilt heavily towards the elderly, where mobile phone signal is rarely found and broadband only arrived after a concerted campaign and funding dedicated to bridging the connectivity gap for rural communities.
Who will turn up to ‘Rob’s’ sessions, I wonder? What kind of problems will they be seeking to solve? In particular, I’m curious how many of these issues will relate to computing in the more traditional sense of Windows or Mac OS, as opposed to tablets, smartphones and hybrids running iOS or Android?
However, above all, it leaves me wondering why the local church and ‘Rob’ have had to volunteer their services. Surely digital industry should be doing more to ensure its products – which hold such potential benefits for people as they age – offer an experience which is accessible to all without the need for ‘problem solving clinics?