We Need Computer Literacy

First, I made an idiot out of myself when I told our IT people that “the body of the computer is missing from my classroom.” It turns out that an Apple computer has no body apart from the huge monitor. How was a person supposed to know that?

And now I just read an article that made me feel stupid all over again:

 90 percent of people don’t know how to use CTRL/Command + F to find a word in a document or web page!  “90 percent of the US Internet population does not know that. This is on a sample size of thousands,” Russell said. “I do these field studies and I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve sat in somebody’s house as they’ve read through a long document trying to find the result they’re looking for. At the end I’ll say to them, ‘Let me show one little trick here,’ and very often people will say, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been wasting my life!'”

I can’t believe people have been wasting their lives like this either! It makes me think that we need a new type of class in schools across the land immediately. Electronic literacy. Just like we learn to skim tables of content or look through an index or just skim chapter titles to find what we’re looking for, we need to teach people about this CTRL+F thing.

I’m one of those idiots who didn’t know about CTRL+F. When I need to find something, I open the “Find” function on the menu. I just looked and it has CTRL+F right next to it. For some reason, however, I never noticed that and never used this key combination. I always make fun of people who don’t use CTRL+C and CTRL+V to copy and paste, but now it turns out that there are folks who are laughing at my computer illiteracy.

13 thoughts on “We Need Computer Literacy

  1. It’s hard to know everything. Also, in those computer literacy courses they give now, they don’t teach this kind of thing. You’re lucky if they even teach “find” at all.

    I am ahead of the game because I’m so old and perhaps because I lived near the Silicon Valley when young. In the 70s secretaries and student workers were word processing on UNIX, and you could go to a computer lab and learn it too, if you were so inclined.

    Then, when personal computers came in, the operating system was DOS. It was a lot more basic than what we have now, and/but you had to really understand what you were doing – no mouse, no random clicking, no graphic user interface as now. A lot of what you had to do then by keystroke still works faster than opening a window and choosing from a menu does, but people have been taught that it is “easier” to open windows and choose from menus with mice.

    As you can see I feel strongly about this — I am against the disorganized structure of Macintosh, where you just have to memorize where things are, and of Windows, which imitates that. These operating systems remind me of the French bookstore I worked at years ago, where things were not organized alphabetically but by publisher, the way (irritating) department stores now organize things by brand not type of clothing. So, if someone came in looking for the work of a certain author, you had to remember all the different places in the store where books by that author were. (And also remember what display table some titles might be on.) It was highly impractical.


  2. I was practically weaned on computers, my dad was considered the best computer guy at his workplace and I didn’t know that either. It will definitely make things easier.


  3. I did not know about those short-cuts either so I thank you for educating me. However, no one can know everything. And computers are just tools. It is much better for most scholars to invest in ideas and concepts even if they remain relatively illiterate regarding computers. I did not know that Apple computers were all in one either, so I would have been as lost as you were in that classroom.

    You are courageous to let us know about your mishaps. Most people just keep quiet.


    1. Thank you, Charles Rowley!

      What bothers me is that now I will have to fumble around with that unfamiliar computer wasting valuable class time. I should have gone to that classroom to practice working on the computer in advance. My bad.


  4. I’ll tell you a little combo I use when on blog threads. If I see where someone has copied a part of someone else’s comment to reply to and I want to see the original:

    Highlight the section you want to copy. Then while holding Ctrl press C, F, V. That will copy the highlighted section, open the Find box, and copy the highlighted section into it.

    I find this to be effective when threads get really long and hectic and its easy to lose track of comments and keep up with who is replying to what and figuring out who said what.


  5. Even though I am a computer guy and work in IT, I don’t use a lot of keyboard shortcuts (I do know CTRL F, though).

    The reason is that I use so many apps and operating systems that it becomes very difficult to recall the keyboard shortcuts between all of them. I do know probably more than average, but don’t feel knowing more than the basics adds much to my skill or abilities because often it just causes problems when I use one app in Windows that has a keyboard shortcut mapped to some action that does something completely different in Linux.

    Most useful keyboard shortcut I know? On a Windows PC, click the Windows key and L at the same time to lock the computer.


  6. One of my more common shortcuts is the fabled three finger salute (Ctl Alt Del). Computer cranky? View your processes and apps and overall usage on the Task List, kill a pesky non-responding app.

    I for one am glad that Apple popularized GUIs. Three cheers for resizing windows, reducing the number of commands to memorize (in multiple OSs), enabling the use of sliders and buttons, and so on. You still have keyboard shortcuts if you want.

    For the Unix enthusiast (#2 comment), the current Apple OS is a flavor of Unix (Darwin) and one can run X11 as native as well. So, the Apple GUI is pasted onto a well-tested stable core.


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