One of the best parts of aging in the 21st century is the explosive growth of enabling technology.*
When most people think of enabling technology, the first thing that comes to mind is a wheelchair.
It’s not like that anymore.
My three part test for deciding wether a piece of enabling technology is useful for elders goes like this…
1) Does it help people do more for themselves?
2) Does it help people care for important relationships?
3) Does it seem like something anyone would or could use?
Writer Stephen C. Webster offers a reflection on the intersection of technology, aging and family.
Virginia Campbell, a 99-year-old resident of Mary’s Woods Retirement Community in Lake Oswego, Oregon, recently got an iPad. She says it has changed her life because it enabled her to read and write again. Now, there’s video.
This clip was especially moving to me because my grandmother, Pat Webster, who passed away in recent years, suffered from failing sight in her declining health.
It was her inability to read that hurt her most, being a lifelong news junkie who married an SMU law professor. Of course my family tired to set up some kind of digital solution, buying a desktop PC, special zoom-monitor and software to assist seniors with computer interactions. Sadly, she never could seem to master moving the mouse while the screen was zoomed in on a batch of text, causing untold frustration.
I’m a writer because of my grandmother. This video made me think, if only she’d been given an iPad, we could have been video chatting over coffee and The New York Times on the spur of the moment instead of only seeing each other every few months. It also made me want to buy an iPad for my surviving grandparents who have the same sort of apathy toward their Windows XP machine.
Apple has on its hands one of the greatest pieces of viral advertising ever. I predict this will be remembered in the same vein as their famous 1984 commercial that introduced Macintosh computers, except this time the company apparently has nothing to do with it.
Added bonuses for marketing of this variety: the video’s amateur nature and simple premise make it far less intrusive and intellectually offensive than most advertising, and it’s optional for the viewer. Those are the kind of hooks I can appreciate.
Compared to this Apple sensation, there’s no better ad out today. Bravo!
Also I expect we might be able to get Kavan Peterson to put up a post on what makes this video work as a piece of viral media.
* Enabling technology is good!