Technology: Advocacy vs. Evangelism
Much like Inger, I seem to have become the “technology guy” in my workplace. It’s not all that surprising: my project requires me to stay on top of social media trends in order to keep track of my small business case studies, and I’ve been a blog & forum addict for years. I’ve also inherited some of Jonathan‘s domain, now that he’s left the Smart Services CRC. However, after a few recent conversations I think that we tend to expect our resident geek to be the workplace technology pusher.
In yesterday’s SGR workshop, Inger spotted me drawing mind maps on a scrap of paper that I was resting on my iPad case.”Don’t you have a fancy app for that?” she asked. It’s a fair question – there are some lovely mind-mapping apps out there. I mentioned that I prefer working on a larger screen, but later realised that’s only part of the answer. Most of my mind maps take place on a magnetic whiteboard behind my computer. It’s constantly in my line of sight, big enough to stick lists and drafts onto as needed, and fills that particular need much better than any of the screens that surround me.
In today’s meeting, Supriya reminded me about my candidature confirmation last year. Wanting to do something a bit different, I went cold turkey and delivered the whole thing without any slides. “You’re our technology person!” she exclaimed afterwards. “Why didn’t you use any technology for your presentation?”
In that instance, I’d been deliberately avoiding Death By Powerpoint, as I can’t stand (or sit through) long-winded slide presentations. It got me thinking, though. My project isn’t about applying technology to cure all ills. It’s about understanding context, and how people make decisions about whether a specific bit of technology is appropriate for their needs.
If I see someone complaining about a problem that I’ve discovered a workaround for, I’ll often suggest some tools or tricks they might be able to use. But I do try to err on the side of advocacy, rather than evangelism… The more people that I study, the more reasons I find for why they do or don’t adopt a given bit of technology. I find those reasons fascinating, and I think that understanding them a little better will help people to design more useful products, and promote those products more effectively.