No, I’m not being ageist! There’s a guy whose video posts I’ve been following for a while on YouTube – he calls himself Geriatric1927. If you haven’t come across his videos before they are definitely worth a look. He recently turned 80 and for me is living proof that age itself is not a barrier to technology use.
One of the issues that often comes up when talking about how to involve people in public services through new technologies is that age is a barrier to such involvement pathways. I would argue that age itself isn’t a barrier. Older people can and will engage using new technologies as they become familiarised, and as technology interface designers increasingly respond to the needs of this growing user group.
Sure, Geriatric1927 is a particularly active exception, and the Web2.0 trend is not going to include everyone who is part of today’s older generation – but there’s no reason why significant numbers of older citizens can’t engage and collaborate online if they are supported to do so. This support is currently taking place in an informal way through the assistance of friends and family but also in a more formalised way through better access to ICT training in local communities. Good news for older people – particularly those with health-issues which limit mobility as they stand to gain from more convenience in terms of access to services, and also better links to dispersed family and friends in the long run.
Talking of which – I installed Oovoo at the weekend and supervised a bit of 3-way video calling! (I hate to say it because I’m a big Skype fan but I think I prefer Oovoo at the moment as Skype currently limited to 2-way vids!)
The picture quality was better than this thumbnail represents – you can see the layout in action though. Other cool features are an easy to use snapshot button, and a zoom-in to full screen mode – pretty slick to use all in all.