Just a place to keep my skins and wodgets that I create in my never ending quest to change my PC so no one else can use it..
We're all incompetent in their eyes.
Published on July 19, 2006 By Kevin_C In Google
"'What I get a lot is: "Why are you against the Semantic Web?" I am
not against the Semantic Web. But from Google's point of view, there
are a few things you need to overcome, incompetence being the first,'
Norvig said. Norvig clarified that it was not Berners-Lee or his group
that he was referring to as incompetent, but the general user.


From an article posted on Slashdot, it appears that Google exec Peter Norvig thinks that the general computer user is incompetent. I know there are a few folks on here who think Google is evil incarnate, and while I may not like some of the things they do, I have 3 Gmail addresses because they give me plenty of storgage space and I have nothing to hide so if they decide to keep e-mails I've sent forever more power to them. However, this type of arrogance and apparent disdain for the people who are making Google the most popular search engine in the game really rubs me the wrong way!! Surely someone as intelligent as Norvig thinks he is can come up with a better word to use to describe these people than incompetent... Who knows, maybe I'm just blowing this all out of proportion!
Comments (Page 1)
on Jul 19, 2006

Well, to be honest, most people I know who use computers on a pretty regular basis are still quite incompetent when it comes to their use.

It is a numbers thing.  Look at the number of folks using Google to search for stuff and I think it is pretty safe to assume that most of them could be called incompetent.

on Jul 19, 2006
Perhaps, but I still consider it a poor choice of words at best, and insulting at worst.
on Jul 19, 2006
That comment was in regards to the Semantic web and that most people do not make their website's markup semantic. So the incompetence they refered to was the webdevelopers.
on Jul 19, 2006
Look how long it took the average non-technical user to figure out how to use the web in the first place.  Heck, I *STILL* know people who think you have to double-click on links on a webpage!  The fact is, most people online are very much morons when it comes to anything more complex than shopping online or sending an e-mail.

The average user is pretty dumb... Go to your local mall, watch the people milling about.  Those are "average users"  Sad, but true.
on Jul 19, 2006
Look how long it took the average non-technical user to figure out how to use the web in the first place. Heck, I *STILL* know people who think you have to double-click on links on a webpage! The fact is, most people online are very much morons when it comes to anything more complex than shopping online or sending an e-mail.


OMG I have to put two hands ovger my mouth when I see coworkers at my LARGE financial corp still double clicking on web sites and then wondering why they have a million windows open.

on Jul 19, 2006
While I have seen my fair share of people using computers who are not very knowledgeable about computer use, I would tend to go with "not computer literate".

From my observations, many people become disinterested in the inner workings of the operating system, hardware, and programs based on one of the following:

1 - being intimidated by the apparent complexity of the system.

2 - only use the computer because they are - to some degree - forced to use today's technology.

The smart leader would see that educating the users, which requires an instructor who knows how to present information in ways that can be digested by the various learning styles of said users, is the most efficient way of improving the lack of knowledge and/or interest in computer use.

I have noticed that good instructors/teachers have the innate ability to convey information, and that successful business leaders do not necessarily have this talent. Usually, they (successful business leaders) have learned to delegate responsibilities in an efficient mannor.

For my part, I simply help someone set-up their desktop with simple, easy to understand shortcuts to the programs and functions they understand, and then wait until they request more functionality (which tends to occur once the user has begun to feel comfortable with the current set-up).
on Jul 19, 2006
Well considering the phone call I got from the webmaster at one of our clients who'd been on holiday for two weeks and needed to ask 'could you tell me agian, what is a link again' I'd say incompetent is too good a word
on Jul 20, 2006
Has anyone read the article? He's not talking about the average computer user, or even the end-user using Google search products, rather the incompetent web designers that don't know how to use HTML that their engine has to deal with. It you quote the rest of that part:

"What I get a lot is: 'Why are you against the Semantic Web?' I am not against the Semantic Web. But from Google's point of view, there are a few things you need to overcome, incompetence being the first," Norvig said. Norvig clarified that it was not Berners-Lee or his group that he was referring to as incompetent, but the general user.

"We deal with millions of Web masters who can't configure a server, can't write HTML. It's hard for them to go to the next step. The second problem is competition. Some commercial providers say, 'I'm the leader. Why should I standardize?' The third problem is one of deception. We deal every day with people who try to rank higher in the results and then try to sell someone Viagra when that's not what they are looking for. With less human oversight with the Semantic Web, we are worried about it being easier to be deceptive," Norvig said."

It seems obvious to me that the exec is saying that it is pretty starry-eyed to think a semantic standard for web development would be helpful when the average site doesn't even use HTML correctly. He also goes on to point out how all standards end up being abused or used for leverage between big companies. I'm not seeing where he said anything about you guys, so it seems odd you'd take offense.

on Jul 20, 2006

test...[please ignore]

It passed...

on Jul 21, 2006
rather the incompetent web designers that don't know how to use HTML that their engine has to deal with


I did read the article and I don't think he was referring only to the Webmasters. Yes, he mentions webmasters who can't write HTML, or configure a server, but in referring to the *general user* as incompetent he isn't speaking only of Webmasters.

I actually agree about the webmaster bit though, as I tried to post a couple days ago but the new forums ate my post..
on Jul 21, 2006
If you would, point out where Mr. Norvig used the words "general user". The only time the words "general user" are used that I see is in the article itself, not the quote. It sounds more like a bad choice of words by the CNet reporter to me. You can see that even in what you have quoted above.

I think in order to back up this article you'd have to show how the incompetence of ordinary users even figures into the conversation. I've re-read it and the discussion is about implementing a semantic standard, and Norvig goes on to say who he is talking about. I don't think you can make the point that Norvig ever addressed generic computer users; rather he was addressing network administrators and web designers.
on Jul 21, 2006
It sounds more like a bad choice of words by the CNet reporter to me.


Possible to be sure, but this is where I started:

"Google Director of Search and AAAI Fellow Peter Norvig was the first to the microphone during the Q&A session, and he took the opportunity to raise a few points."

This seems to set up the next 3 paragraphs in the report as individual 'points' that Mr. Norvig made.

The first paragraph ends with "Norvig clarified that it was not Berners-Lee or his group that he was referring to as incompetent, but the general user."

I have a hard time categorizing web designers as "general users", but as you say, it may be so.   

on Jul 21, 2006
I think hes right whether its HTML problems or just plain old spelling mistakes the web has a long way to go to catch up with most printed media. The mistakes can be seen on alot of web sites (not this one obviously) so the question is why take it personally if you code and type well hes not talking about you
on Jul 21, 2006
The fact is, most people online are very much morons when it comes to anything more complex than shopping online or sending an e-mail.

The average user is pretty dumb... Go to your local mall, watch the people milling about. Those are "average users" Sad, but true.


wow Zomba, I like you! so was surprised to read this comment that was rude, arrogant and ignorant. Different people are talented in different areas! Some are doctors, ( not talking about you BluDev, even tho you're a doc!) and perhaps you might not know what Cholesterolosis with cholesterol polyps is, however a doctor does! Truck drivers have to learn a lot about semi-driving and could confuse us not so much with their lingo, however with their the things they have to learn to be licensed! Mason's post about his work just blew me away.

I don't believe for a second that the "average user" is incompetent! We might not have a couple of years or even a year to become tech great at this stuff, however we do pretty darn good.

You're ok Zoomba, just think your comment was really uncalled for, judging people that are just walking around a mall, based on their looks, is....not very nice and you know, not smart.
on Jul 21, 2006
If you would, point out where Mr. Norvig used the words "general user"


I would, but as Corky_O stated there is no direct quote attributing the statement to either of the Google execs. However, the author of the article states that Norvig later clarified his statement, and stated that it was not Berners-Lee or his group that was incompetent but the *average user*..

If this is a mis-statement of the facts then I stand corrected, however I can only ascertain what is written in the article, and knowing more than one CEO/high-level executive in my days I would absolutely expect someone in that type of position to think that way about the average user..

At this point it's almost like splitting hairs, I'm over it I was just a little ticked when I first read the article. I don't think I'm an average user, but I know some people whole would be considered such and I don't think it's appropriate for someone in a given field to call someone who is not also a member of that field incompetent because they feel that persons understanding of their field is lacking.

C'est La Vie!