Now let’s all go watch some Gilligan’s Island

I am interested in how people connect via media, and how that might affect organizations in the future.

Sure, the amount of information that is being produced and shared is staggering, and yes, “keeping up” is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Some people want to think this surge in connecting via technology is a fad, and some just want to turn the whole thing off. It’s just too much NOISE!

As an instructional designer & educational technologist, my plan has been to participate and witness and ride the wave for a while to see how it all works — I can’t really expect to know how to work with this surplus of information and the myriad modes for tapping into it in any coherent “big picture” way (read: in a way that is clearly advantageous to my organization) until I’ve gotten familiar with some of the possibilities: thus I blog and text and podcast and get my RSS feeds of info. And this morning I set up a Twitter account (twitter.com/wjin). Cody and Jenna were there already.

There is corporate curiosity about these toys, no doubt. But I see the skeptical looks, too. Corporate workers are, for one thing, much too busy to play with toys. I’m not sure how to get past that reality. I do recognize that folks are inundated with tasks-at-hand (particularly middle managers). The information-influx already has them pulling out their hair. Most workers are at war with their email in-boxes and the cognitive dissonance of multi-tasking. Are they really going to take the time to learn about new technologies and to set up their own networking system?

Telling people that they’ll be better off for learning and incorporating technical solutions and online networks is like telling people they should eat their vegetables. Not well-received. Tell them it’s fun! doesn’t do the trick either. They’re too busy to have fun. I am tempted to go with the scare tactics: what’s gonna happen when EVERYONE else is connected and YOU’RE NOT?!? But that’s not going to work, either. And who am I to mess with the workings of evolution?

I play with technology because I get a kick out of it, and there are opportunities in my job to apply what I learn when I play on the weekends. Yes, on the weekends. My job does not include time for technical experimentation. I do, however, find that there is recognition (and rewards!) for the experimentation I conduct on my own time. Which rocks, because it’s something I want to do anyhow. So here I am on Sunday, accessing information about the future of technology and human capital management and generational differences in the workplace. I read what the best thinkers are writing, and communicate with people who are thinking about the same things. This begs the question, though: am I working on the weekend? If I am interested in the discussion, is it work or entertainment?

Clay Shirky recently shared some really interesting thoughts about cognitive surplus and the consumption of media. I link to both the text version of the talk, and a videocast.

Really cool stuff, and well worth reading/listening to. And it’s good for you. And it’s fun! And if you don’t, you’ll turn into a dinosaur.

I have to work on my proselytizing.

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