I was at the grocery store last night, in line at the self-checkout behind a rather elderly gent who did not understand the system at all. He was being helped through the process by a solicitous young clerk, who showed him the card-reader, the little device for the signature, where the receipt came out, and so on. The scene depressed me a bit; the poor old guy had met technology that had defeated him.* He'd lived through a world war, driven increasingly complex cars, used telephones, seen the rise of radio and television, ATMs, computers -- and lived through it all conditioned into the happy confidence that no new thing would faze him. Yet here he was in his golden years, unable to do the most rudimentary task, buying groceries, without assistance.
I'm convinced that with the ever-quickening spirals of development of new technology, this phenomenon of finally being defeated by some new system will happen to us at younger and younger ages. It may not defeat us at the user-interface level -- I see more and more standardization of interactivity in Web design, and innovations that add value without adding confusion -- but I think more and more of us will be confronted at younger and younger ages by some innovation sufficiently baffling that we simply fail to understand why the new thing even exists at all.
I believe I've reached that point.
Can someone please, please, please explain to a rapidly aging old fart:
What the fuck is the point of Twitter?
*The system seems designed to be as confusing as possible, even to young folks -- and no two stores' layout is the same. Awful, awful design, but that's a post for another day.