Average Browsing

Saw this video the other day – Google in New York asking people if they know what a browser is.

Most people didn’t.

Or rather – they essentially think the browser is Google.

Is the browser so pervasive that people don’t register that it’s a distinct “thing”? Or does the average user basically just not have any understanding of computers? Do we need to try and understand what they are doing, or educate them?

I think, it’s all and yet none of these things. The average user thinks in terms of the tasks they want to complete and sees the computer in terms of how it helps them with these tasks. As programmers, we think in terms of applications, operating systems, hardware. We’re speaking different languages. If we reformulate the question in terms of a task – for instance, “what do you use to access the web” and qualify it with “on your computer” (the obvious answer is “my computer/phone/ipod”) we’ll get a different set of answers… and a better understanding?

Update: Interesting article on the browser wars in the Guardian.