Business emails to inspire confidence (not)

Double CheckThere must be a whole generation of people who know the mechanics of using technology, but have no idea of how to take charge of it. I am thinking in particular of the ridiculous marketing messages I receive, that advertise targeted marketing services. I mention this because, despite all the lambasting of “Office skills”, it is demonstrably clear that people need them. I could even make a case for this being related to digital safety. How? Reputation is important, and marketing messages that have “schoolboy errors” do nothing to enhance one’s credibility. Consider the following examples:
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Mystery solved?

Here in London there are so-called ‘Olympic Lanes’ on the road network, which may be used only by members of the ‘Olympic Family’, ie contestants and others directly connected with the Games (see this Alberta Games website for information about it). So, the lanes are in place, and motorists are allowed to use some of them at the moment. However, despite big electronic displays telling drivers they can use the lanes, lots of them didn’t realise that. Why not?
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What don't people know?

Like many others, I suppose, I sometimes forget that just because I am familiar with something (a piece Hmm. Seems kinda obvious to me...of software, a workaround, a report -- whatever) doesn't mean that everyone else is. And they're not going to tell you that they don't know something for one very simple reason -- people don't know what they don't know!

About a year ago I explored this issue, and suggested ways to deal with it, in an article entitled The art of stating the obvious. Click the link to read the article now.

The Art of Stating the Obvious

Do advertisers know something we don’t? Some years ago a soft drinks company brandished the slogan “Our bottles are sterilised with steam!” – omitting the fact that all soft drinks companies used that method. I was reminded of this yesterday whilst in  a hardware store (the old kind of hardware, ie nuts and bolts and things). On sale was a fly swat whose packaging proudly declared: “Poison-free”. That’s right: there wasn’t even an exclamation mark, which would at least have hinted at self-irony.

Tell me something I DON'T knowHave ICT Co-ordinators and others whose job it is to bring other colleagues on board with using technology missed a trick? Perhaps posters could inform people that computers do things automatically, or that word processors have built-in spell-checkers.

Actually, I know I’m being slightly cynical, but on a serious point, where do you draw the line? For example, I am pretty sure that a lot of people don’t realise that spreadsheets let you run the same basic calculation over and over again  without your having to enter all the information again – unlike with a calculator, once you have set the spreadsheet up all you have to do is change the numbers (variables) you use.

I’m fairly confident that most people know that spell-checkers are a feature of word-processors, but what about the outlining feature, which allows you to see only the main headings? And if aware of that, are they further aware that by changing the order of those headings, they will automatically move all the text under them?

People don’t know what they don’t know. It may be worthwhile trying to think of things your colleagues don’t know about the computer facilities in your school – and then telling them all about what, to you, is obvious.