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.