Sunday, October 22, 2006

Technology, Fear of

I'm sooo scared!Technophobia. Astonishingly, this is not just a syndrome faced by millions of Amish (are there millions of Amish?) It exists right in our own back yard.

Stephen Abram calls people born into technology "natives" - I sit on the fringe of that. I dial my cell phone with both thumbs - I cradle it in my fingers, while dialing with thumbs. Apparently, this is characteristic of the natives, while non-natives poke at the numbers with one finger. I say I sit on the fringe because I didn't use e-mail until 1996 - and even then not regularly until 1998. Gen Y, and the millenials have never known anything else. Technology doesn't scare me, because I can't experience life to the level I desire without it.

Some people seem to be plenty happy with electricity. It turns on the typewriters, the lights come up - and it is not as flammable as those old gas fixtures. While I exaggerate for effect, this is the feeling I am left with sometimes.

This is not a PSA for "TECHNOLOGY IS FUN!", because sometimes it isn't. I have no desire to learn Access, I've already learned Excel...and I need to polish up my Photoshop skills, however my job is dependent on that. Did you read that last part? My job is dependent on that. And while it doesn't make it fun, it does mean that I can pay my mortgage at the end of each month.

I've been told that it is hard to learn technology that you are not familiar with. I've received written replies on printed out e-mails, and received the same in inter-office envelopes. Guess what? YOU CAN REPLY VIA E-MAIL, JUST BY PRESSING REPLY!! And it's quicker. And saves paper. And my time. Valuable time I can spend learning Photoshop and Access.

So, do you make do and let your coworkers carry the line? OR do you ask questions? Continuing education courses? Read a book (oh the horror!)

It is our job as librarians to stay at least 2 steps infront of our savviest user. We set the bar for information giving. Library Assistants learn from the librarians how to give service. We teach computer literacy classes. How can we do this effectively if we ourselves are not staying ahead of the game?

The fact that technology changes so rapidly is scary. There is not a single question about that. You learn a program, and its already time to begin learning the .1 of that software. You figure out how to use a e-book reader, and they are defunct. New search commands, new databases, different wild cards, blood thirsty robots - OK, there are none of those, but I just wanted to see if you were still reading. It can be a challenge.

My point is this: when the teacher stops learning, how can they teach? Instruction is a big part of our job.

If you take a back seat to this, and let the rest of the team lead the charge, you are not doing yourself a favor, you are hurting yourself and holding back the team. After all, the cliche adage about the chain being as strong as its weakest link is totally true.

Rather than be scared, or hesitant - dive in. We learn from our mistakes. Best of all, no one can be injured when learning keyboard shortcuts, or editing images. Unless you are practicing on the roof ledge of your library, and it is very very windy. And if you haven't got the money for continuing education, use the MS Wizard. Or the Idiots or Dummies guides.

Challenge yourself. Learn something new, or at the very least, keep up with the Jones'.

Moral of this blog: No killer robots were harmed during the composition of this blog.

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