The Most Ignored Click

I found the inspiration for this post this past weekend.  A friend of mine was in town and he had his brand new hybrid car and he took me for a ride.  It was a sweet ride, to be sure.

One thing caught my eye.  As soon as he turned on the car, the dash light up.  Now, on my car, the radio on the dash gives me the time and the radio station that I’m listening to.  On his car, up popped an acceptable use policy.  He tapped “Accept” or “Agree” or something and the screen went away and we could see a live diagram of the power system.  It was fascinating to watch.  I really wanted to take a picture but resisted the urge.

So, I asked what the first screen was and he said that it was an agreement that the driver would not spend her/his time watching the diagram and pay attention to driving instead.  Good advice.  We stopped and got back in the car later and the same acceptable use popped up on the screen.  Apparently, it will happen every time he starts the car.  Now, for him, it’s just a matter of starting the car, accepting and going.

Perhaps the first couple of time, he read the text but after a while it just becomes something to just click on to get going.  The message may even fade from memory.

But at least it was there once.

How important is it to understand the text before “accepting”?

I can’t imaging that I’m different from anyone else.  When I get a new piece of software or set up a web account, I’m anxious to get going and just want to scroll down to the “Accept” button and then get at it.

Software is like that.  Even though you buy it or acquire the use of it, there’s still an agreement between the user and the developer.  It’s unlike most other things.  I can go to the grocery store and buy an apple and once it’s mine, I can do what I want with it.  I can actually feed two or more people if I want to.  I could reverse engineer it and make it into a pie.  I could  serve it to someone under the age of thirteen.  I could even plant it in the ground and hopefully grow more of them.  It’s very seldom that you run into software that gives you the flexibility to legally do those sorts of things with it.

As an example, suppose that you were interested in creating and using a Hotmail / Outlook / Live account.  There comes a time in the registration process that you’re presented with this.

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Do you read and understand the agreement before accepting?  Here are the links in case you wanted to review them.

And, it’s not just Microsoft – it’s every company.  They’re in business and want to make sure that you use the software / service in the spirit in which it’s offered.

Are there implications to not understanding?

As it would happen, I read this story this morning.  ” Anonymous funeral director explains the big con behind the industry, coffins, and embalming“.  Or, perhaps on a less sad note, we’ve all heard of contractors who have that “gotcha” moment tucked away in the fine print that you didn’t read either.

Do we ignore that click in education?  Absolutely.  Typically, over the summer computers are refreshed and re-imaged with software installed.  Now, the end using student hasn’t read the acceptable use policy or even had the chance to know the implications of using the software.  It’s just part and parcel of their computer use.

How about when you take them to the web.  Is the instruction given to the class “Just click Accept” so that we can start working or is some time spent looking at the terms and conditions so that everyone understands what they’re about to do?

I know that, in computer science, where students are developing their own software that copyright and intellectual property is something that’s covered in class.  It’s important for them to know and understand.

So, I would ask you – is it important to you in your class?  Or is it just another ignored click?

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