I started my IT skills with the BBC computer, and have been advancing slowly but steadily ever since. With time the amount of information available has become so extraordinarily vast and complex, that it is only those who surf the Net regularly who can find things easily. Due to my immobility, and the fact that my doctor tells me that complete cure is unlikely, I decided to buy a motorised wheelchair. I have never been a competent surfer, and in consequence when I was looking to find out what was available, the choices, and all the other things one needed to know, I found I was being directed up dozens of wrong alleys, because I was using the wrong vocabulary. Purely by chance I discovered that the government had a website which guided me beautifully into all the parameters that I was looking for, but I only found it after about a total of three hours, covering five attempts. The question that I ask is, is it the system or me?
A week or so ago I wrote a piece extolling the merits of the Citizens Advice Bureau, I sent a copy to my MP, and very dedicated lady, who because she approved of what I said, passed it on to the local Minister, who kindly replied to her. I had been suggesting that not sufficient funding was given to the CAB, because it had been my experience that it was very difficult to get hold of them as they were so busy. My main reason was that too many people seem to be making too much money in guiding those of us who are in financial straits, when the CAB delivered it free. The Minister sent a reply, which was passed on to me, that showed just how many government initiatives are out there to help the average person having a problem. Once I have permission to quote this letter I propose to do a piece that sets out all this information.
I think it’s a great pity that quality information, essential for all, is so difficult to find, for the uninitiated in computer surfing. It seems one has to wade through pages of titles of websites, if you don’t exactly get the right vocabulary in the initial question. From this experience it is absolutely clear to me at any rate, that the government is doing more than it would appear, or getting the credit for. The real problem is that all those in control, the government, the local authorities, and advisory bodies, all seem to take the view that everybody has a computer, and is computer literate, and this is not the case, may I suggest that the figure is nearer 20%, if you ignore the children. Yet they send the information on the Internet, about things like dustbin emptying, when previously it was sent by mail.