For four years, I’ve been banging on here at TGB about the neglect of elders’ needs in many areas of the culture. Today it can be announced that at last, we have liftoff – at least in the area of technology.
It is thrilling that my presentation at Gnomedex in early August caught the attention of some big-name technology companies along with some individual, expert technologists. One of the latter is a fine, young man named Joshua McKenty who chased me down at my seat in the auditorium at Gnomedex to offer his services in creating a web browser that would meet the needs of old people.
And, my friends, he wasn’t just blowing smoke. In only three weeks since Gnomedex, we are already in the early stages of developing an ElderBrowser that will make surfing easier for old people whose eyesight may be fading, whose motor skills can diminish, and which will speed the learning curve of newbie elders.
This is a first step toward making the web more elder-friendly and I will announce more initiatives as they come along.
Right now, Joshua and I would like to enlist your input to help us get the ElderBrowser right. Here are a few of the obvious changes we have identified:
- Larger text in the location and tool bars at the top of the browser
- More contrast between the text and background colors of the those bars
- Make the minimize/hide/close buttons in the upper right easier to choose with a mouse
- Make grayed out icons and text easier to read
- Scale the ElderBrowser for use by newbie, intermediate and expert elders
Those are not all we’ve come up with, but they give you an idea of the direction we are going and now we are asking for your help on such questions as:
- What is difficult for you to do in a web browser?
- What confuses you?
- What is hard to see?
- What is hard for for you to do with your mouse?
- What doesn’t a browser do that you would like it to do?
- What are the things you like best about a web browser?
- What are the things you like least?
- What is the single change in a browser that would make it a better experience for you?
Also, try to recall what gave you trouble in a browser when you were new to using the web. Or, let us know what difficulties your parents or other newbies you know may have learning to use a web browser:
- Were/are there too many choices? Too few?
- What confused you (or confuses your parents) as a newbie?
- Did you or do your parents use the default settings of a browser when you were a newbie? If so, why? If not, why?
You get the idea. This is your chance to make a real-world difference for all online elders and make it easier, for those who are just starting out, to enjoy and embrace the internet to its fullest.
Leave your answers and any other suggestions and ideas in the comments below. Every one of them will be seriously considered for inclusion in the new ElderBrowser. Keep in mind, that this project is for a web browser only, not hardware, other kinds of software or blogs. Those, if all goes well, will come later.
I cannot thank Joshua enough for taking on this project. It is his idea, he is doing it on his own time and his enthusiasm, when we met at Gnomedex and continuing now, has given me renewed energy to keep pushing for the improvements we need in many areas of elders’ lives.
As we move forward, I will keep you updated on the development of the ElderBrowser. Joshua blogs at BountyUp Founders – Mumblings from behind the curtain and he too will be writing about the progress of the ElderBrowser, so it is a good idea to bookmark his blog. I’ve added a link to it from the Elderbloggers List on the left sidebar. He is a long way yet from the minimum age of 50, but if ever a younger person deserved to be there, it is Joshua.
While I’m on a gratitude jag, I must mention the founder and producer of the Gnomedex conference, Chris Pirillo. On his various websites, blog, Blaugh cartoon and other endeavors, he has always been an enthusiastic and creative supporter of elderbloggers and elders online. Without his invitation for me to speak at Gnomedex this year, the ElderBrowser and none of some other exciting new projects would exist. So he too gets a spot on the Elderbloggers List.
There are no better young advocates of technology for elders right now than these two 30-somethings who put their personal time and expertise where their mouths are. It would be a mitzvah if you would go tell Chris and Joshua how terrific they are in taking the lead for inclusion of elders in the world of technology.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Matty is back with another tale of her grandson's one-upkidship in Out of the Mouths of Babes.]