Wow. I have to say, without a doubt, that the comments on this thread are some of the most oblivious I’ve ever read. The comments are a bit like selling someone a car, warning them five times at the top of your lungs that they need to fill up the gas tank – and then having that person lead an angry mob to your door because they ran out of gas five blocks down the street. NO, you can’t definitively protect any content on the internet, and if it were to be made possible, it would make the web unusable for a lot of casual users and virtually all developers, and people would be screaming about all the things they couldn’t do. But it is a solution that will work for a casual user, or even a more technical one who doesn’t want to be bothered working around it – EXACTLY AS YOU REPRESENTED IT TO BE. Sheesh.
But to add a constructive note to this message of disgust: This comment thread underscores THE main point of failure between technical folks and non-technical folks – the fact that techies have NO clue as to what goes on in the minds of people who aren’t so inclined. Routinely, they will either expect the less-technical to know more than they do (and get condescending and/or angry if they don’t) or give them credit for no intelligence whatsoever (“now go to the lower left corner of your screen and click the button with the four colored boxes…”). Over and over, I have seen miscommunications of this type. Combine this with the fact that most coders, designers and programmers are COMPLETELY unaware of the needs of the people they’re building sites and apps for, and the results can be disastrous.
And now I shall relate a tale from the misty age of the dot-com era, when I was working tech support for a long-gone web hosting company. This was a time when people did actually call tech support to report that their computer’s “cup holder” was broken (don’t tell me it’s an urban legend, okay, because IT HAPPENED TO ME – I put that guy on hold, announced it to the entire tech floor, and put him on speaker so that everyone could hear it for themselves; we were careful not to burst into laughter until after I’d muted the line) and the company mainly targeted these clueless users as customers, offering free sign-ups to new ISP users and such.
Anyway, it’s some odd hour of evening, either just before or just after midnight, the pace of calls has slowed and upper management has long since left the building; the tech floor manager had dimmed the lights, someone else had music playing, a bunch of us were gaming between calls, you know, just kind of chilling and cruising through the last few hours of our shifts.
So I get this call, and I spout the automatic greeting, and a gentleman – a somewhat older gentleman, from the sound of it – says, “Good evening. I’m , and I make eyeglasses.”
This was enough of a non-sequitur to catch my attention. “Um,” I said, “okay…”
“I’ve been making eyeglasses for forty years,” the man went on to say. “No matter what your prescription is, no matter how odd or how strong, I can make it for you.”
“Uhhh,” I said cautiously, “okaaaaay,” wondering where this was going.
“But do you know what I can’t do?” my caller asked me.
“Uhhhhhhh,” I responded, figuring, okay, either it’s a misguided sales call or the type of ‘I’m taking a lingerie survey, what color are your panties?’ calls that we female techs got sometimes. “What can’t you do?”
The man paused, to give proper weight and emphasis to his answer. “I don’t know how to make a web page,” he said solemnly. “Will you help me?”
And after a stunned moment, I burst into laughter. First, because his delivery was awesome (my account of events really doesn’t do it justice) but also because it was such a basic, simple truth. There was, had always been, an unvoiced assumption amongst the tech support folks, tacitly encouraged by the upper-echelon crowd, that ignorance of web technology implied stupidity – and it was at that moment that I realized that this was not merely insulting but utterly false. It was a realization that changed my outlook and attitude toward tech support, and later, programming – and greatly facilitated later projects: instead of assuming I knew the best way to build an application, I realized that my technical knowledge didn’t change the fact that I was as ignorant of my end-users’ needs as I was about how to make eyeglasses, and let the end users tell me what THEY needed the app to be.
Heh. Sorry to write a freakin’ BOOK, here, and one that’s basically tangential to the topic of the post – but boy, did this bring back a string of memories. :)
Anyway, cheers to you for your patience. :)