Thursday, March 5, 2009

end user

When computing became ubiquitous, the term ‘user’ quickly came to define, well, practically all of us. That is to say, we were the users of computers. We encountered graphical user interfaces (GUIs). We set up user accounts. We chose usernames.

Somewhere along the line, however, a redundant appendage was added to this term. We became ‘end users.’

In a rather vague matter of semantics, an end user is the intended recipient of any particular technology. This may be construed as a somewhat abstract concept, as it could theoretically describe someone who doesn’t even exist; but then, so could ‘user’ in the same context.

The beauty of simple terms is the way they fit a broad array of circumstances. Buzzwords are often needlessly, superficially specific, as though the likes of ‘end user’ could inherently connote anything more than the sum of its parts.

It can’t. When average civilians become users of any given technology, they are already at the end of its path of development from idea to market. And there is little sense in defining an ‘end user’ when there is no corresponding role for a ‘beginning user.’

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