Things I Know 353 of 365: It isn’t all for everyone

A successful tool is one that was used to do something undreamt of by its author.

– Stephen C. Johnson

My stepdad was explaining at lunch today why Facebook just wasn’t how he connected to people. I understood.

“What about Twitter?” he asked. “I haven’t looked at that.”

Knowing him as I do, I told him to stay away. “It wouldn’t be useful to you.”

I get the feeling this is was unexpected piece of advice coming from me.

It took less than a semester for people at Harvard to come to expect my nerdiness.

Even at SLA, a school that breathes technology, I was one of the nerdiest.

Here’s the thing to remember, I like technology. I will totally geek out on the newest gizmo, gadget or app. Being a beta tester is a source of pride for me.

When thinking about systems and considering a task to be completed, however, one of the last things I’d advocate is technology for its own sake. Out of context or usefulness, there are few things I can think the use of which I’d advocate for their own sake.

This is because the misuse or thoughtless application of tools, structures, and systems can be an ugly, counter-productive thing.

I’ve seen it in the teacher with access to 1:1 laptops who makes the worksheet using Word and distributes it for her students to type in their answers and then print them out to be submitted.

I’ve heard it in the arguments of those who call for changes in schooling so that students can, as a result of those changes, do better at school.

While I think most every teacher could benefit from jacking in to the network of educators on Twitter, I don’t think every teacher should. Requiring every teacher in a school to sign up for this account or that account is a great way to insure you’ll never have 100% participation in that market.

The best way to make a tool useful is to wait for the use of that tool and build the capacity to recognize when it is called for.

Had I encouraged my stepdad to sign up for twitter, I would have been giving the world another person complaining about twitter’s uselessness.

That’s not my bag.

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