Technological Self-Sufficiency: Fact or Fiction

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Sorry, I’ve not come up with some amazing new technology or strategy to save ICT department’s cash. I’m talking about the ability to use technology without relying on other people.

I often hear comments such as “you’re so good with technology”, “how do you know this stuff” and “I’m rubbish at technology”. It leads me to wonder, what makes the ‘capable’ different to everyone else? Is it possible to be completely technologically self-sufficient?

I would describe myself as a proficient user. But am I proficient in comparison to my colleagues in ICT, or computer science? Certainly not. They have a depth of understanding well beyond my own. But do I know more than some of the people in my office? Yes definitely.

How would you describe yourself? Technologically proficient, capable, sufficient etc.

There have been a lot of theories floating around about peoples dispositions towards technology. Marc Prenksy’s digital natives and immigrants or the latter visitors and residents. Dave White has an interesting blog post on the subject. All analogies of this kind are largely redundant. There is no ‘one size fits all’. But they do encourage us to be reflective.

Visitors and Residents is a simple way of describing the range of ways individuals can engage with the Web. (White, 2015)

If you’d like to map your own practice take a look at Dave’s workshop materials.

My Visitor and Resident Map
This is my Visitor and Resident Map from last year.

So I’ve digressed. Am I technologically self-sufficient? Far from it. I still have to ask people, still have to be trained and I still like a good help-sheet. I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking for help, actually that’s why I have a job.

Is there such a thing as total self-sufficiency? No, it’s a myth. Even ICT staff need other peoples help to learn. Learning is a collaborative exercise. Technology should be used and the useful discoveries shared.

The people I meet are not rubbish with technology and they are certainly not incapable of using it. They’re frightened or don’t see the relevance of technology to their discipline. All I can say to you is we learn most from our mistakes and if you don’t try you won’t know what you’re missing. Make a few mistakes, try new things, learn from them and try again. Always try again. (Ctrl+Z is the shortcut for undo, handy tip)

The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. – Elbert Hubbard

A few tips to become more self sufficient

  • Age has nothing to do with it,
  • ‘Google’ it first,
  • Ask questions on discussion forums,
  • Watch training videos online,
  • Attend training sessions,
  • Teach someone else something you’ve learned,
  • Try new technologies,
  • Test it first,
  • Try, fail and try again,
  • Don’t be nervous.

How many of these things do you do? How many will you try?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Stephen Fisher says:

    I think it is important to experiment with technology and get over this belief that it is out to get you, as a creative technologist I often love pushing tech to the limits and constantly learning new skills and methods often without any training or peer review. Mistakes are a good thing as without them we learn nothing.

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