Remember when computers didn’t have internet access? When it was fun to say “five and a quarter” or brag about having a hard drive. One of the things I remember most was staying up into the night, fascinated with the thick manuals that came with the machine. It is like a geek version of Sherlock Holmes, each page uncovering the mysteries of the personal computer. There were many manuals written using language more cryptic to a new geek than hieroglyphics. Yet, I was thankful the manufacturer had the courtesy to invest in creating them. I have a strong guess that my career path would’ve ended up differently without them.
Today the latest gadgets are lucky to have the required government warning literature included. Consumers are told to go online and retrieve this information at their leisure. Which is great. It saves trees, costs, and the latest version is always available. It also is an admission by companies and their customers that very few people actually read these things with the passion I did.
Consumers want their stuff to just work, be simple to understand, and reliable.The iPhone itself isn’t 100% obvious with everything one can do with the device. The iPhone comes with a very rudimentary manual. This must be due to diverting the written word for Mr. iPhone Trainer and his onslaught of helpful videos. It is the manual that everyone wanted. Can’t figure out how the keyboard works? Watch a 10 minute video and practice along. How does SMS work? There is a video for that too.
The majority of people learn through watching someone else. For the people who prefer to read, Apple has loaded their written knowledge base full of iPhone articles. All the learning areas are covered for people.Which brings me to such an amazing idea. Why the hell isn’t the rest of the industry doing this for all their products? How expensive is it to show people how to work a device this way in comparison to writing a technical manual? Wouldn’t these videos offset a good number of tech support calls?
Most importantly, will Apple do this moving forward? Will the intensity of information on the iPhone spill into Leopard? And will Mr. iPhone Trainer in black be available? I hope Apple does realize this information shouldn’t be a ‘feature’ of .Mac. These videos probably helped sell the iPhone, just as how to videos would sell copies of Leopard.
The days of the manual are long gone. While I’ll always miss them, they will never be as effective as monkey see-monkey do.