Tech-retard, it's not your fault

For Physical Computing, Hyejin and I went to Kinko's to observe people using technology. Our focus quickly turned to the Sony picture printing kiosk. The interactions people had with the machine were varied. One person using the kiosk seemed to be experienced at it. The efficacy with which she accomplished her task was impressive. Another, more interesting case was a man who was having a lot of difficulty. After failing to get one kiosk, he eventually moved to another where he began slowly progressing through the interface. After about ten minutes, I approached him. He was still in the process of selecting photos to print. I asked him about his experience with the machine, and he responded "I am retarded with these kinds of things" speaking presumably about technology in general. This was a curious response, since the first machine he had used was in fact dysfunctional. So it wasn't a problem with the user, but rather with the tool. Nonetheless he blamed himself.

I think this is a common response to failure with technology. We assume that the technology is effective despite our experience. In this case, a more intuitive response might be dissatisfaction or frustration, from my perspective.

There is a alternative design solution that may have alleviated the man's difficulties with memory cards. Instead of trying to accommodate as many card types as possible and cluttering the terminal, the designers could have created a single mini usb connector, a connection that is ubiquitous in digital cameras.