April 16, Y2k-1

On Wednesday, I held a training session for my co-workers. It was a beginner's guide to Microsoft Word. Most of the class could handle the information that I was giving them, but I knew that a couple folks were totally overwhelmed. And so, at the end of my hour of teaching I had an epiphany:

I told them to open Word Pad.

I explained that Word Pad is a stripped down word processor that comes with Microsoft Windows and that while it can't do all the fancy stuff that Word can do, it can handle basic, simple formatting. I watched the one of the folks who had looked somewhat lost when following along during the MS Word training and her face had opened into a broad smile as she clicked away without any intimidation.

My epiphany:

Word is the equivalent of an SUV:
(sport utility vehicle)

a large, expensive, powerful tool
(used mostly by yuppies)

to write letters
(or carry groceries)

Word Pad: write.exe = 5 KB  
comes with Windows 95

Word: winword.exe = 5194 KB 
costs = $339 (full retail cost)

Most of us don't use a fraction of the features that come with today's word processors (or SUVs, for that matter) but because technology is seen as an extension of ourselves. We feel that we are more powerful if we have powerful tools at our disposal (thank you, Marshall McLuhan).

Whether we actually use these tools to their full potential is not discussed.