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Technology 101: The Basics No One Tells You

I’ve just returned from THATCamp 2011, and my head is spinning with all of the new things I’ve learned, the new people I’ve met, and the projects I’ve learned about.

One of the most rewarding things for me of a THATCamp experience is the generosity of spirit people show and the clarity of the explanations they provide for how to accomplish various tasks. Thanks to Jeremy Boggs–to name one example among many–several of us now know a good bit more than we did before about HTML5 & CSS3 as well as the process of creating my own WordPress themes from scratch. Often all we need is someone to show us the basics, to help us avoid all of the unproductive flailing around that might occur before we finally figure out how something is supposed to work.

While we all wait impatiently for the next THATCamp to take place somewhere nearby, there are a couple of resources to consider for ourselves or for our friends and family members who might need a little push in the right direction with regard to certain digital tasks.

  • Last year, Google created a site called Teach Parents Tech, which allows you to put together a customized email–ostensibly for your parents–with pre-fab explanations of how to accomplish certain things. It’s a pretty useful service, frankly, and not just for parents.
  • New York Times technology columnist David Pogue recently published his “first installment of what should be the Big Book of Basic Technology Knowledge–the prerequisite for using electronics in today’s society. Some may seem basic, but you’ll probably find at least a couple of ‘I didn’t know thats!’ among them.”
  • Pogue followed up his first installment with “25 more tech tips and tricks.”

Now, I don’t mean to imply that the basics as explained in the above links are what THATCamp is about: many of the topics at THATCamp are quite advanced. However, the above links are good examples of what we need more of: clear and simple instructions for how to accomplish the things we’re trying to accomplish with technology.

How about you? What are some of your go-to sources of helpful information? Please share them in the comments!

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Martin Abegglin]

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