How oven and hob literate are you?
Funny question isn’t it? Perhaps the AirBnb host should have asked us. It was a beautiful cozy little ‘tiny house’ with everything we needed. It was made from straw bales with high eco credentials that we wanted to see, so were delighted when it was available. By the time we arrived, the kids were hungry and becoming irritable, so a quick pesto pasta was on the cards. Oh cool, look, one of those super efficient induction hobs.
But then I tried to turn on the hob. Water in pot, pot on element and nothing. Just a flashing red “E”. Try again. “E”. Different hob, “E”. Different sequence of button pushing, “E”. Arghh. The kids and my irritation levels were increasing now. While Hannah tried to figure it out, I searched for an instruction manual; no luck. Can Google help? It turns out, Bosch makes numerous induction hobs and none of the manuals online were for the one in this house, but we tried their instructions anyway. Still no luck.
With the kids hungry levels rising, I resort to a dinner of shreddies while Hannah retreats into a bedroom to call the AirBnb host, who turns out to be hiking in Northern Scotland. Not a good start.
In the end, the host called us from some random point in Scotland and helped us sort out the hob – something to do with the right pan on the right hob with the right amount of weight. But it got me thinking.
In our work with digital, we often will ask if people affected by a disaster have a mobile phone or even if they have a mobile money account, but we don’t ask if they know how to use it. We assume that because they have a phone or an account they know how to use it in the way we do or we need to them to. Perhaps they know how to pick up the phone if it rings or when it beeps it likely means there is money on it. But perhaps they have no idea how to make a call, how to access the money, how to send an SMS, or even how to read. Perhaps that’s what grandchildren or friends are for.
If our host would have asked if we had ever used an induction oven before, we would have said yes as we have before. Just not that one. Simple instructions would have gone a long way to making our experience better as would have a few more (and better) questions at the start.
Digital literacy and responsible data requires us to improve the questions we are asking at the start and to reduce our assumptions.