My mum decided that we had to fill out our family’s income-tax returns online, on the Tax Agency’s Web site, and from that moment on, my dad had to confront the daunting practicalities of obtaining his own digital identity. This entailed his making a Web call to a service provider to get his identity verified by a human agent. Seeing my dad struggling with this unknown medium, engaging in a type of interaction that felt completely cringey to him, was touching and somehow a bit funny, too. It struck me that he just couldn’t make himself look at the person on the screen. Instead, he invariably turned around to look at me, where I was standing silent and out of view—given the legal requirements of the online verification—but ready to provide assistance during the procedure.
To be fair, my eighty-year-old dad is quite comfortable tinkering with his smartphone and proficient in carrying out the tasks that matter to him—for example, texting his loved ones, looking up information online, or perusing a Web shop. However, other tasks that are novel for him often come with unexpected hurdles and the risk of failure. A case in point: his identity verification failed. Read More
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