You are browsing the archive for 2012 October.

Get Your Folks Online – 52

October 30, 2012 in Idea

I came across this article in the Irish Times  (now added to our DTLater Diigo Group) – a brief abstract below:

“It is estimated that approximately 70 per cent of Europe’s wealth is in the hands of the over 50s. In the last 20 years, consumption within that age bracket has risen three times as fast as the rest of the population. By the same token, the latest research carried out in Ireland showed that only 25 percent of over 50s in Ireland have IT skills.
Yet there is no massive push on the part of advertisers and marketers to get older people online. Surely with the massive growth of online advertising and by extension online shopping, one would assume more of that “old money” would be aimed at?

The last in-depth research conducted in 2008 – commissioned by the Work Research Centre and Age Action Ireland – indicated that 25 per cent of people over 50 are online but only 35 per cent of them were engaged in functional usage. In other words, they had internet access in their houses but they weren’t getting a whole lot of benefit from it.

“This study is old so we’re also trying to stimulate better more up to date research in the area,” says Sinead Gibney, head of social action at Google Ireland and co-architect of Google’s Age Engage programme, which aims to build scalable and sustainable models for IT skills in older people.

Perception of older people within society as a whole is the first problem in tapping into this market. “It is presumed everybody in society is now online,” says Eamon Timmins of Age Action Ireland.

“This is not the case. Many older people are yet to overcome the psychological barrier of starting to learn how to use a computer and yet it is this community which could benefit most from being online.”

The key point though, is that Google and Age Action have teamed up to create a resource to deliver free training for “older” users on how to get connected, use the internet, use Skype and many other tools. From what I can tell, this initiative is specific to Ireland – see – but maybe we can approach Google to see if there are plans to extend this programme in collaboration with other age/community support organisations.

Digital Story-telling – 42

October 22, 2012 in Solution

I was very impressed this evening to see the work of tenantspin in Liverpool who have been working with older people to help them use new technologies to tell stories about their lives and recreate memories. This evening I saw an animation of a story about a character from someone’s childhood, and a film of a musical, performed by older people, about the impact of technology on people’s lives. This is some powerful work which both deserves a wider audience and to be replicated elesewhere.

Multilingual computing – 43

October 22, 2012 in Challenge

There is a proportion of the older population in the UK for who the barrier to the use of online information and communication is not just about the technology, but because their first language and their language of primary literacy is not English.

Fortunately the Web in recent years, and the Windows and Macintosh operating systems and apps, have embraced Unicode, and are therefore able to display information in e.g. Chinese, Hindi, Thai… for the left-to-right languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu there may be additional issues of application support, but Web-based apps do quite well here. But if people want to type in their own language (assuming they have typing literacy in the language), they may need appropriately configured keyboards, keyboard drivers/mappers, and appropriate software.

Worthy of investigation may be the following gaps in technical provision: access to fonts that are capable of displaying these languages on people’s computers – use by Web information providers of dynamically embedded digital font sets to get round the issue – availability of keyboard drivers and mutilingual apps – provision of these font, system and app resources on public access computers (e.g. in public libraries).

Password overload – 44

October 22, 2012 in Challenge

Most of us now suffer from having too many passwords and PINs to remember. For those with memory problems – which is particularly common amongst the elderly – this can inhibit digital access. In addition we also often have to provide other security data such as memorable place or date for example.

The challenge is to reduce the dependency on memory for using digital services. There are PC solutions that can manage your passwords for you – but if you forget the password to that app then you’re really stuck. This would also not be a viable solution for public access, such as in a library.

‘Electronic Village Halls’ and Libraries – 45

October 21, 2012 in Idea

Perhaps it is timely to revisit some of the notions of the ‘electronic village hall’ which were first mooted as social telematics infrastructure in the late 80s, for example in connection with Manchester City Council’s support of The Manchester Host and regional telematics (pre-Internet). The idea was for staffed locations where computing resources would be available for the use of citizens and community organisations.

Today, many urban public libraries actually have more customers using their computers and WiFi connections than are reading or borrowing books. Rural libraries, many of them under threat of closure, are often the only local point of Internet access for those who do not have access at home. It would seem sensible during this Nominet Trust enquiry to draw the Library Services (and national librarianship bodies such as CILIP) into the conversation.

Key pinch-points for library-provided ICT access are funding, maintenance, support and training for inexperienced users, and an often underwhelming offer of Microsoft-only software.

Home broadband tribulations – 46

October 21, 2012 in Challenge

To be able to connect to the Internet at reasonable speeds from one’s own home is still a great problem for many people. For a single person to pay for a personal home connection via e.g. BT or Virgin is not cheap. Many find the service to be unreliable, and configuring the system is beyond many people. Such is the complexity of a broadband WiFi router set-up that it is hard to know, when it goes wrong, just what is at fault; even experienced computer users can be driven up the metaphorical wall.

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Sharing accommodation – 47

October 19, 2012 in Solution

Room for Tea is a new kind of homesharing network, that connects guests in need of short-term, affordable accommodation in London with hosts who have a spare room in their homes.
Room for Tea

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Sharing older cooks’ tips – 48

October 19, 2012 in Solution

League of Meals helps everybody to cook better and waste less by sharing older adults’ knowledge and tips about home-cooking through digital channels, and in collaborative cooking sessions.
League of Meals

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Sharing caring – 49

October 19, 2012 in Solution

Grouple aims to provide a secure, private online social network helping people share the responsibilities of caring for someone with dementia.
Members of a care network easily post their schedules, ideas and experiences of caring, dividing responsibilities and coordinating efforts to provide consistent and regular care without one single person being overburdened.

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Personal alarm – 50

October 19, 2012 in Solution

buddi is a wristband personal alarm that people will be happy to wear and can send alerts from anywhere to buddi’s support services.
The buddiband is comfortable, discreet and waterproof. To avoid battery replacement and daily charging, it is fitted with the most powerful possible rechargeable battery – which offers at least two months of battery life – and is designed to be as power-efficient as can be.