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Rear View URLs

Rear-view mirror

The past couple of weeks I've been helping out my neighbour set up an internet connection in his home. He's over 70 years old and this his first ever experience with email and navigating the web. It's been a real eye-opener to see him getting got grips with it all (to be honest, not very well so far) and my heart aches a bit as he stuggles with basic internet concepts.

One of the first things I did was set him up an email account, and we practiced sending each other messages. I showed him how to email his distant relatives in Brasil, but he's afraid to do so, because the telephone company might charge him extra. I've tried explaining that's not the case, but the psycological link between distance and price is hard to break.

When I returned for my second visit (to restart the router) I noticed he'd somehow managed to disactivate the location bar in Firefox, so I put it back. However, a few days later I returned to find the location bar as absent as before. He said that it was basically an over-technical distraction, so he disabled it in the menu.

It seemed wrong to me, and at first I couldn't explain why. Eventually I told him that the location bar is basically like a rear-view mirror in a car. Sometimes you can end up on a site that isn't what it seems, and a quick glance at the address above the page will let you know if it's safe to proceed.

It seemed a nice comparison, but he didn't seem very convinced. Neither am I, come to think of it.

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