I am (still!) amazed by the gap between how I see a computer and how most non-geeks around me do. To them, it's like a set of different, often frustrating tools rather than, well, an amazing piece of technology that can be prodded to do whatever you want (to the point where an iPad with few to no apps can provide them with all they need).
To me, there's a joy to finding just the right framework, app, or library that can do what I need done. To the point where I might end up enjoying the process a bit too much and get nothing done. To them, it's all about getting stuff done as soon as possible, with whatever they're familiar with. And since they find computers often quite frustrating, they will abuse the hell out of the little bits they know.
And so, in the same way that we would use a lighter to open a bottle if there isn't an opener nearby, they 'abuse' technology by using Excel for everything, or storing their notes in an open notepad window without saving. And as long as that works most of the time, they feel absolutely no incentive to figure out a better way.
Until, of course, it all goes wrong. Then they call us to fix it :-).
The problems are that:
1. computers today don't really look or feel like 'bicycles for the mind' to the average joe -- it's our job to make them look like what they really are instead of dressing them in pretty silky dresses (think all the iStuff...) OR, even worse, make them look like appliances (think the iOS devices that feel like a multi-tool, every app isolated by itself and very hard to move data from one to another) OR, even worse, cripple them on purpose (DRM, closed formats that are not cross-applicatin compatible etc.)
2. most people's minds are really bad at 'learning to ride bicycles'... hell, even teaching a human being to properly read and write takes a few good years -- so it's our jobs to make the bicycles easier to ride, but we should not forget the danger here: the way to make a bicycle easier to ride is not to hide that it's a bike! (this is kind of what we do with most of our UI/X paradigms, and it makes it easier for people to use computers as appliances, but much harder for them to realize they are mind-bikes)
Now that we have "a computer in everyone's pocket" we should get our heads out of our asses and show people what a computer really is!
And about 'using Excel for everything': I'd take this as a good thing! Excel is almost a goddamn programming language after all (and a functional one, btw), and it'as close as most will ever be to real programming.
So you make up this story that what they are doing is not really using computers. It's not the same kind of wonderful magic that you can do. And while you say "Now that we have "a computer in everyone's pocket" we should get our heads out of our asses and show people what a computer really is!"
Well what if that actually happened! what if computer/coding/programming literacy really did become as widespread as reading,writing and arithmetic. There'd be nothing special about you anymore! So you fight the future. you fight the "Fancy UIs" while saying you're not!
Okay maybe none of this applies to YOU specifically. My point is, if you're going to embark along this argument, I think you should really make an effort to prove your true dedication to it. Prove it's not just an expression of a deeper insecurity.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are masters here, and little to no one newcomers learn some good usability and simplicity lessons from them.. the complexity in tech are only getting worse, and eventually will require "saviors", wich are the ones people will praise for, and the tools people will use..
Notepads and Excels, not Emacs or Bash .. so its not the users that are the ones to blame.. we are.. The elistist geeks who think that everybody else should be a geek.. not savages
Personally, that excites me. Every once in a while I still marvel at the slab of plastic and glass in my hand that does all these amazing things, even after having had a tablet for years now. Then I marvel at the thought that I, singlehandedly and at virtually no cost (that I wouldn't have otherwise), can create an app for the thing that even my grandmother could download and use.
Hell, I marvel at the mere fact that everyone around me has a computer, uses chat applications, and carries around a PDA everywhere. There was a time where I was the only one like that and even embarrassed about it in public.
We've come very far, and I can't wait to see what comes next (wearables, probably).
Because there is a demand for web based applications,because we cant throw everything in the trash saying we got to start over. Because the web is a way to distribute software with next to 0 cost.
That was TimBL's intention, but that ship sailed in 1995.