This video has been doing the rounds for a few weeks or more now and the reaction to it has been pretty amusing from many folks on Twitter and beyond. Mike has written a short but useful post reacting to it and I agree with the point he is making. The fact is the great majority of people in this world might well use the web but simply don’t know or care about many of the things that those of us who live online take for granted. If you want any new web service to be a real success then it is these people you are building for and you need to understanding where they are coming from as well as where you want to take them.
In a funny way the success of Twitter and things like Barcamps, Geek Dinners, Hackdays etc might actually be making this ‘us and them’ situation worse. Now more than ever it is very easy for a web geek to surround themselves with people with a similar outlook of the world to themselves and the echo chamber effect comes into play. I think it is important for people to take a reality check every now and again and talk to be people for whom the web is little more than a necessary evil and probably only consists of half a dozen websites.
For better or worse I’m surrounded by these people. Most of my friends and family will never understand what I do but they do use the web every day; just a slightly different version of the web to me. The web is just the web to them, there are no version numbers and phrases like social media are gobbly-gook (thank god!). I’m constantly thankful for the insight they offer (and god knows they are a cheap source of beta testers!) but to come back to the original question in the video I’m betting that less than half of them would answer correctly (despite the fact that almost all of them have at least 2 browsers on their PCs after I made them install Firefox!)