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Saturday, January 21, 2006
Lost in Translation
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:28 pm

I just spent some time on the phone helping my grandparents (who are in their 80s) hook up a DVD player to an ancient (technologically speaking) TV (with added complication that is hooked up to a DirectTV setup that requires watching normal programming via Channel 22).

After much back and forth and getting an RF Modulator hooked up, we finally got it to work.

However, after all of that they noted that they had the DVD player working, but the name of the movie was onscreen, but it was frozen and wouldn’t do anything. It was, of course, the menu for the disc, but when one is used to only VHS tapes, the concept is quite foreign. It took me a second to realize that there was no reason they should intuitively know what to do with such a menu (and the fact that the DVD player’s remote was improperly setup didn’t help). At any rate, it just struck me as to the degree that as society has become more technologically driven that we acquire a “language” of sorts linked to the way the world works. And just like picking up human languages, the older one gets, the harder a time one has with the techno-language, especially if one is from a generation wherein there was never any initial training in “techno” in the first place.

If one finds a DVD menu foreign, it is no wonder that hooking up the darn thing is difficult. Indeed, in having such conversations, I am frequently struck by the number of assumptions that I make about various electronic devices that someone who isn’t conversant in “techno” would never make, and the difficulty one has in explaining the item-much like trying to explain an idiomatic expression from one language to another. It is rarely a straightforward thing.

And thank Goodness for the internet, as I was able to pull up the manual for their DVD player and a picture of the RF Modulator while I was talking him through the process-otherwise I would never have figured out his remote control problem.

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