Don’t blame the tools

Tonight, at a dinner for my husband’s firm’s summer program, we were seated with a couple I hadn’t met before who are now my new favorite work-friends of his.  Where have these, smart, funny, fun people been?

Anyhoo, somehow (after a discussion of his dog peeing in his shoes for the past 10 years) our table got on the topic of technology innovation and what it can enable… or rather what has been lost through it.  And there’s the difference in our opinions.

His view:  Technology has made things so easy that younger people — even smart ones — aren’t learning to research and think for themselves. They’ve become fishermen casting a line and assuming whatever they hook and reel back is enough to satisfy. Their goal is to say they’ve done what they’re asked, not what they set out to learn.

My view:  Don’t blame the tools. In every generation, people who have worked and worked hard look at younger up-and-comers and their newer or evolved m.o. and accuse them of not knowing how to do things best or not appreciating what comes with good, clean honest hard work. It’s hard to blame technology for the laziness of humanity when it’s always existed.  People can just be lazy in more cutting edge ways. I truly belive this.  Technology and the ease of connecting, finding, deploying is not to blame — it’s people who will do enough to satifsy what they think are benchmarks, be it a boss’s requset, a friend’s judgement or a lender’s requirements.  People are people. I find myself reminding people of this often when they try to blame social media for people expressing opinions. As if editorial pages, suggesion boxes and even bar stools never existed.

I believe that good, smart people will always utilize tools better than others, and this is no different now than when it was stone tablets. That is not to say others who don’t strive to learn how to research better, who don’t strive to be more than just average anglers off the pier don’t somehow also deserve the fruits of technology. I’m not making an argument for merit or worthiness or value.  I’ve previously stated how technology is best when delivered to mass markets.

I just truly believe that people are people, and we’re universally imperfect… some will use their tools to get the job done, some will use their tools to look like they got the job done, some will fail with the tools they’re given (for sundry reasons) and some will just not even try to use them.

What do you think?


July 24, 2008. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

In the words of OK GO, G-g-g-g-get over it

Somewhere between a well-intentioned but redundant presentation from an ad agency today and reading various tweets from Twitterers I follow, I started fixating on the following.

Get over it.

What is it with early adopters technosnobs who use (mis)use their passion for all things technology as a sort of weapon? The ones who have no sense of history, who think that our generation or the current 15-25 year old consumers are faster, better, smarter, earlier by sole virtue of living in today’s era? The ones who ignore or don’t remember the Beta vs. VHS, projection TVs, Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), and perhaps even railroads, the cotton gin and the steam engine.  Even the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893 in Chicago had some really cool technology demos (think electricity)  and belly dancing, which is definitely not the norm at the trade shows I’ve been to lately.  You gonna laugh at them just because it was in a day and age when Buffalo Bill Cody set up an unauthorized side-show?

These INNOVATORS (yes, even the belly dancing and Buffalo Bill engendered some new and adventurous ideas to Americans) are why we are able to have the connectivity we have today… they went first, and we’re building on it. The generations ahead of us — regardless of whether we regard them as quaint today — were just as smart, innovative and talented as we are. They were “early adopters,” they had outside-the-box ideas, they were chided by traditionalists and naysayers, BUT they knew what they had to do — they had to open their arms to the “edglings” or the mainstreamers in order to bring their visions, products and services to them.  

Yes, innovation has been alive and well in every generation and mostly embraced. Those who truly love technology, the beauty and science of it — even those like myself who aren’t personally smart enough to actual build or innovate any of it — love it even more when it is scalable and attainable by mass markets.  Some people just move slower, and it’s up to the innovators to prove value and mass market capability. Without scalability, the cotton gin is Wang computers, 3G is Improved Mobile Phone System (IMPS), McDonald’s are Hot Shoppes and Carrie Underwood is Taylor Hicks.

Being 2.0, being a technology leader is more than looking down your nose at the non-innovators. Most people love what technology can do for their life when it’s evident to them.  Real technology leaders teach these people… they don’t spend all their time on Twitter or FriendFeed preaching to the choir about how smart they are and making snide remarks about the rest of the world — you know, all of us needed to climb on board to make something actually stick.

C’mon, get over yourselves.  You think the rest of the world hasn’t seen your technology in some 1.0 iteration? Think again.  Make it matter.

So, that’s where I was mentally somewhere this afternoon between reading a blogger’s self-important description of various wireless apps they were loading and the ad agency’s earnest presentation (which was actually good, but just reinvented the wheel). 

If you’re looking down your nose at people who aren’t “early adopters,” you’re probably also looking up your a**.

G-g-g-g-g-Get Over It. (You can see the OK GO video here… scroll down for it.)

July 14, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Yes, truth is stranger than fiction

Things that shouldn’t surprise me or make me laugh, but do:

  1. Bachelorette saying (again), “It breaks my heart.”  When clearly it doesn’t.
  2. Hearing there’s a rivalry between people who live in Dallas and Ft. Worth. Isn’t Ft. Worth there just to give the airport a more metropolitan feel?
  3. People who somehow think the photo of cattle next to their charity group’s name actually has anything to do with them (talk about a complex).
  4. Watching people (usually lawyers) time and again attempt to stick their finger in holes to hold back the rushing social media flood… and watching them think they’ll be able to do so.
  5. A 3 year old’s ability to stay up late when he’s exhausted.
  6. Amount of depressing news on the news
  7. Amount of uplifting news you can find online if you look even slightly
  8. The fact that some news media genuinely seem surprised that George Clooney and girlfriends don’t last.
  9. Red tape
  10. Nearing middle age women who somehow convince others they’re the right people to lead emerging communications strategy.  🙂

July 7, 2008. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

OMG how do my days get like this?

Don’t even know where to begin. Here’s my day today:

Wake at 6, shower, dry hair, dress, put on makeup, get kids dressed, give kisses goodbye, remind nanny of day’s schedule and give ok for her to take the boys to Botanic Garden, then go to work. Actually make time to stop at Starbucks for my tall, skim decaf mocha. Yum.

Work, work, work… things are INSANE at work.  Moving HQ, massive social media project launch slated for Monday that needs some TLC, 4-day work week, oh and the portal project needs more funding an my VP is on vacation and last email I got from her involved ice, beer, charcoal and Walmart, so probably not the right moment to ask about funding.

Realize at lunchtime (soup at my desk w/tired looking little cafeteria crackers), I forgot to make daughter’s lunch for camp (she gets it there but hates the turkey on Wednesdays).

Console myself with working more. Good news, portlet for HQ move is coming along.

At 4:00 look at watch and know I can leave and make it to daughter’s ice skating private lesson if I hurry… get stuck on a call with a lawyer discussing an NDA and end up singing the Washington Redskins fight song — I am not making that up — and leave at 4:15. Can still get there for 2nd half of lesson and will work more tonight to finish up what is still on my desk.

Leaving work, realize I will be driving to outrun what might be a tornado forming. It is absolutely all BLACK sky to the west of me and just grey mist to the east.  Am shortly stuck inside the most hideous storm… But, since I’m already insane, I might as well use this perfectly not perfect time to call the friends we might have a family dinner date with tonight to coordinate details.  Phew, done. 

Then I call back the childhood friend who recently found me on Facebook and called earlier this week. Halfway through this call, I realize that talking on the phone in the storm is a really, really stupid idea. We schedule a lunch date and I hang up, which was just as well b/c she could probably barely hear me above the pounding rain on my car.  BUT, now quite fearful (my car actually seems to be crackling if that’s possible), I call my husband to say (half-kidding) that I love him and he should know I’d be thinking of him if I died in a tornado.  Realize that I have to drive 10 miles an hour b/c impossible to see through windshield and, assuming I make it through the tornado/rainstorm, I will most definitely miss ice skating. I REALLY hate it when I fail at what I set out to do.

Arrive home, realize I forgot to call plumber today about STILL not fixed backup battery for sump pump. Considering I’d bet the power will go out at any moment, this is not good. It’s now after 5 so will have to wait until tomorrow… as they enter holiday weekend. Sigh. Good news, daughter remembered lunch so nanny packed it before the bus came. Bad news, she came home with form for local skating team membership and early registration discount ended Monday. WHY ARE WE ONLY GETTING THIS FORM TODAY?!!!

Back online for work.  How did I get 24 emails in the inbox in 50 min?  Oh, and some portlet copy that needs big time editing.  Suddenly, 6:45 dinner seems tight. Still manage to get edits done AND change out of office clothes to casual family Italian restaurant clothes. Fresh lipstick on too. I’m on a roll!

Husband calls to say trains majorly delayed.. will be late for dinner. Calls 10 min. later to say likely to miss dinner as no ETD at all and still at downtown station. I frantically try to reach our friends to tell them not to leave for dinner before they do.  They don’t sound happy. My kids are nearly crying with disappointment, especially my daughter who is best friends with their son… quivering lip, tear-brimmed eyes, you know the look.  I kinda want to cry myself.

6:20 and now w/no dinner plans have to figure out what we’ll eat. Thank goodness for my fairy godmother (aka nanny) who makes tilapia for the adults while I make tomato soup and toast for the kids.  I know this sounds negligent, but honestly, they’re not going to eat 5-min-thrown-together fish.  Don’t worry, I put peanut butter on the toast for some protein.  And they drank all their milk.

Husband home in time for 7:30 dinner, then kids’ bedtime.  When he brings in the mail, there’s a late notice for a VHS tape rented from the library and returned one day before the due date. Call the library, they have record we returned it, aren’t sure of why we got the notice, but show 2 out of the other 3 things I returned that day still outstanding. Grrrr.  I’m told not to worry, their computer scanners aren’t working so great and they’ll find them.

At bedtime, only one kid has a major meltdown and needs timeout. Did we remember to brush teeth? Not really sure.

Head back downstairs to make the twins’ lunches for camp tomorrow. Also take out the tie-died shirts they made yesterday to rinse and wash. Back online for work. Husband and I hear really loud noise from direction of washing machine and cross fingers yet another thing isn’t breaking (between the A/C and sump pump last month, enough is enough).

Phone rings — it’s the ENT who did sleep study for one of the twins in June. He’s got Sleep Disordered Breathing in the sleep apnea continuum. 25 minute conversation about the study results. Net of it:  call his office in the a.m. to schedule removal of tonsils and adenoids. Only silver lining of this in my book is the glimmer of hope he might actually sleep through the night more than 3 times a week for the first time ever in his life. And therefore, we might too. We look at the calendar and for the life of us can’t figure out a good Tuesday for this before the school year. How did our life get this crazy busy?!

Back online b/c I still have work. I manage a few things, but I’m burnt.  I haven’t blogged in a week, and I’m feeling kinda pathetic. Think I’ll turn on the news and make a quick attempt at seeming up-to-date.  This is the best I could do today.  It’s pretty boring and linear, I know.  I sit here wanting to promise my next one will be better, but really, if your expectations of this are higher, then I’ve really got you fooled.

July 2, 2008. Tags: , , , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.