Thursday, February 18, 2010

Google Zombies

Except instead of "Graaaaah, Braaaaainnns", it was "Graaaaah, Faaacebooook".

Or to put it another way, "Welkom to da interwebz, pls chek yur branes at da doorz", or something like it, since that is what it feels like when you delve into this particular trainwreck.

I noted this story here doing the rounds last week (ironically, on Facebook mostly), but didn't get around to checking it out for myself until a few days ago (the real juice is in the 1700+ comments). And said 'Wow'. And 'Wow' again. And for a third time 'Wow'. Handy summary here courtesy of The Register (and source of the awesome "Google Zombies" tag).

I will not even pretend to be an expert web navigator, having picked up knowledge osmotically in the fifteen years or so I have been using various browsers, but I was dumbstruck by the apparent incomprehension of the various users who thought that Facebook had somehow transmogrified into ReadWriteWeb, not only that they mistook one site for something it clearly wasn't, but seemed not to have either the basic browser knowledge or critical thinking skill to figure out what was going on. It left me wondering how these users do anything on line.

I'm not going to call these people stupid since I don't think they are, but I can't quite get a handle on just how they got so confused. They google ‘facebook login’, get a LIST of matching results, but when they follow the first link on the list and arrive at a site that is obviously very different in almost every way to the familiar, do they think “hmmm, that’s not quite right” and go back to the list to check? Nope, they just assume this is the new facebook, ignoring the fact that the genuine facebook login is RIGHT NEXT TO the option they chose on the result list.

I have to assume a couple of things. First they don't know the significance of the address bar on the browser, or how to use it. Second, they don't understand what the 'forward' and 'back' buttons are for ('back' in particular). Third, Google is omniscient to an almost Skynet-esque degree, since it is apparently infallible.

I wasn't dumbfounded so much for the lack of browser nous. What disturbed me more was the seeming lack of simple common sense (or maybe the extent of conditioning), and the apparent numbers showing it (even given my suspicion that more than a few commenters complaining about the new facebook on the original RWW story would have been trolls), combined with the probably larger section of non commenting befuddled users. Confounding this was the common phenomenon of people only reading the first page of a comments thread before adding their own, and thus missing explanations further down the discussion.

This is wierd to me, since it looks like a regression in basic net skills rather than the familiarity you might expect given the massive growth in everyday web use over the last decade or so.

1 comment:

Maureen said...

Wow, that's pretty sad. I'm kind of wondering how all these people were able to get on facebook before and now somehow can't figure it out. My favorite comments were "I just want to play my farmville game." Funny stuff.