Yesterday I organised a riverside reunion for friends I worked with as a journalist many years ago. I was the junior reporter and, of course, still am. The others range from mid-70s to mid-90s. For the first time, though, I became acutely aware of differing attitudes to technology. For a start, it was the only meeting I'd organised in living memory where I had to send out the invitations by snailmail. One went unstamped to my shame and caused endless recriminations, but that's another story. To my knowledge, only two of the group have email addresses. A couple have digital cameras, one is a frequent internet user while another is an internet sceptic. Why would anyone want to waste time on that Twittering and stuff?
I find this rather sad. They are all very intelligent people with enquiring minds and a ready wit. They've done great things in their lives but, for some reason they haven't taken part in the greatest revolution of the last twenty years: the internet, or the information super-highway as Bill Clinton called it. I think they are missing out, because the internet and all that goes with it is ideal for older people. Seniors have lots of time but they may not be able to get out and about as they used to. It is all the more important to cultivate a virtual world where they can keep in touch with friends and do interesting things. I have to make a conscious effort to keep in touch with those friends who don't use email. It's such a chore to write a letter, stick on a stamp and take it to the postbox. On the other hand, my friends with email addresses have the dubious advantage of hearing from me often. It's the way thing are these days.
Of course, Jane Austen would not have approved of me. Jane didn't have Twitter; but if she had, I'm sure she would have tweeted Bath to death. They would all have been face down in the Pump Rooms within a week.
Strangely, it was the nonagenerian, a former technical journalist and a first-rate engineer, whose eyes were sparkling at the click of every digital shutter; and who went into raptures when I unsheathed my MacBook Air. "Wonderful", he kept exclaiming. I will get him on an iPhone next, because the iPhone interface is ideal for older digits and older eyes. It has nice big menu items, just like one of those senior telephones with the monster buttons. As an easy way into computing, while replacing a hard-to-use cellphone with those fiddly buttons, the iPhone has a lot going for it.
If this takes off I can see opportunities for the App Store, including Peep to locate the nearest public convenience.