OK, now add up your scores. Add all the points under the A section and place it on the A line below; do the same with sections B through I.
A ... POWER USER ________
B ... EARNEST LEARNER ________
C ... PEOPLE PERSON ________
D ... PLUGGER ________
E ... QUESTER ________
F ... WORRIER ________
G ... DREAMER ________
H ... SKEPTIC ________
I ... TECHNOPHOBE ________
The type with the highest score is your dominant computing style. The low ranges describe your phantom, under-developed style. The midrange is mush. Most people who take this test end up with a scattered score: two or three types in the high range (from 31 to 40 points), two or three more in the middle range (11-30) and the rest in the low range (0-10).
While there is no right or wrong scoring, the preferred pattern is a broadly scattered one. A weird profile would show no scores in the middle range -- this would likely be a very intense person, who careens from extreme to extreme.
Your challenge, should you accept this assignment, is to be more aware of your high and low ends -- to keep the high end traits from eclipsing the other traits, and to work at developing the phantom traits so that they, too, can be part of your arsenal.
Here are some keys to what your limitations are, and how to compensate for them:
The quester faces an uphill struggle. You must first master yourself, then deal with technology. A machine is like a slab of Formica. It does not change from day to day. It is boring company for a chameleon personality, one that wakes up and has to reinvent itself every morning. Your best shot may be to motivate yourself to learn systems by doing things on them that you enjoy. Start surfing the World Wide Web on the Internet, and visiting with newsgroups in the Usenet area that appeal to you -- alt.unbalanced.loners, say, or rec.shaman.toad_lickers. We resist technology when it's no fun, or there's no enjoyment at the end of the struggle. Put a pot of gold at the end, and even you will beat a path to it.
You are a people person, so you are skilled at identifying your lack of affinity with technology, and you realize it has much more to do with your social, organic personality than it has to do with the soul of the machine. You can forgive yourself for being born in the wrong century, and you make an extra effort to get with the program. Maybe you can focus on how your PC, the Internet, phones and fax extend your ability to be social. Or maybe you can harness your natural power of persuasion to let a more systematic friend show you the ropes. Reading from a textbook won't work with you -- you must be told, and shown, in person.
The worrier's problem is lack of confidence. You need to be shored up against your fears that the system you're working on is going to melt into a putty-colored puddle. If it helps you to take elaborate notes to perform chores, go for it. But what you really need is to be disabused, for once and for all, of the idea that you present a clear and present danger to the system in front of you. Go to alt.folklore.computers in Usenet (or have someone do this for you) and ask the techno geeks that assemble there what they do to computers that annoy them. (They drop them from fourth-story windows, shoot them with guns, squirt lighter fluid on them and set them ablaze in parking lots.) Hardware is remarkably hard to kill, no matter how much you may want to. Walk out on the limb a little; you'll find it is sturdy enough for even you.
As a skeptic you have preconceived feelings of negativity that prevent you from committing to a program or system. You fit the adage, "once burned, twice shy." You are determined never to be made a fool of by some stupid computer again. But you are only holding yourself back. You need to forgive technology for always being in a state of flux, and yourself for stumbling and falling down the stairs a few times. A positive attitude toward technology begins with a streak of humility. That means setting aside your victim mentality and getting right back on the horse that just threw you.
The technophobe has, as expected, the worst prospects. True technophobes are usually very interesting people, brimming with values that you perceive to be under attack. Unfortunately, you bring all the wrong attributes to the technology table. For you to make peace with the millennium requires something approaching a complete makeover, and that kind of transformation is very seldom successful. The place to begin may be with the things the phobic user treasures: your sense of craft, your appreciation for excellence and individual differences. These are the same values, with a slight hitch in them, that drives software development teams and hardware engineers to create remarkable things. Somehow you must transfer or share allegiances. You must not feel you are betraying one world to peacefully coexist with another. Finally, you must find the interface that is least off-putting, the one that most easily transports you out of "computing" and into the realm of work or play that you do not object to: being a journalist or a scholar or a correspondent or a business person. In short, you must buy a Mac.
Even types not currently queuing up on the ledge to jump because their computer is out to get them can benefit from this kind of self-assessment. Consider the four remaining types that fare reasonably well in the current system:
As a dreamer you get excited about new gadgets and then are disappointed when they don't work, or don't meet your expectations, or aren't as neat to work with as you imagined. You need to get a handle on your expectations, first of all. No more late night computer magazine browsing, when the mind is weak and prone to strange cravings. People like you often see technology as the end in itself, not a means to an end. You buy things you have no practical use for -- page scanners, backup power supplies, enormous database packages for teeny-weeny business applications. You need to find practical applications, things to do with your technology, work you can apply your dreaming to -- instead of the technology itself.
The plugger is not quite the earnest user, but you stick with technologies until you are no longer a disgrace. You need to increase your comfort level with machines. Because you have no particular hang-ups about technology -- you don't hate it, nor is your brain wired wrong for it -- you are an excellent candidate for outside training. In the end your challenge is less with technology than with excellence itself. You must find what motivates you to do something well, and then get going.
Our earnest user has a mild predicament. You are good at technology, and technology has made a terrific task-performer out of you. But it has also helped make you dull. All you want is to do your job, to meet specifications. You have better things to do in life besides make friends with your PC. You know you are competent, but you don't feel very special. You know your work is "good enough." But you also sense that "good enough" may not be good enough any more. Tomorrow's workers are going to be asked to routinely exceed specifications. Cogs need not apply. The recommendation here for earnest user is to get going. Start jogging. Get an easel and start daubing. Start developing that wild firebird spirit that is buried deep inside you somewhere.
Finally, the techno natural or power user. We tend to think of you as the winner in the technology personality sweepstakes, and this whole technological century is your oyster, to crack and slurp down at your pleasure. On the contrary, you are in some ways as much a victim of technology as your opposite, the technophobe, because technology is often your master, and not the other way around. Seldom are you rewarded for your technological skills the way other people are for their financial or people skills. You are the sort who easily topples into obsessiveness, the fellow who stays up too late at his computer. Your insistence on being all-knowing in matters involving computers and systems borders on an unhealthy mania and is keeping you from doing your real work. People who truly love technology are most vulnerable to its power -- to distract, to confuse. People like you need to restore balance to your lives -- before you have none at all.
Back to "Future Shoes with Michael Finley"
Copyright (c) 1996 Michael Finley