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Friday, April 14, 2006

How do you value slow and fast innovation?

The only keynote speaker I managed to hear something from at the Webist conference said something that set me thinking and has led me to a small epiphany. He said:
And nowadays you have Wikis and blogs. They are so easy to use that even the most digitally illiterate can use them.

That is just clearly not true, I cried out in my mind! Many people don't know how to use them. And they don't know how to use them for social and cultural reasons, which are at least as important as technical ones. Some reasons I see why people don't find it easy:
* you are afraid to use them in case you make a mistake. If you make a mistake you might "break" something. So you don't try.

* you learned duing your life that making mistakes is wrong.

* if you make a mistake and you don't know how to fix it, then your mistake will be public and everyone will know you've made one.

* you learned to follow rules and guidelines and in the absence of those you feel like you don't have permission to try.

* you don't know where to go for help - especially if you haven't ever used user forums or FAQs or a tutorial embedded in the system.

* you leaned during your life that asking for help was a sign of weakness.

And if in all that you don't really have a context or see the objective for using the tools, they why would you bother to prioritise any time trying them out?

That lead me to my next thought which is that I've been asking some wrong question recently about distributed or virtual communities. It's not - what can we do to help people use the tools? The question isn't even: what practices should we be cultivating to help people make sense of the tools? I've got to get back to asking: how can we improve the full range of our social practices so that we are harnessing the knowledge, experience and networking capabilities of people who are and people who are not using the tools? Which, as it happens, is also what our paper was about ...

Serependitiously, I read Jane at creativity machine who says:
We have a lot to learn from the practices of late adopters, as well as those of the thoughtful, the sceptical, and the reluctant. We should watch them. We should listen.

Somwhere in there lies a key. I've got to keep chewing on it.

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Blogger Nancy White said...

You are writing some great stuff in the past weeks, Bev. I'm loving it. I am nodding so much my neck hurts. The questions you are asking dovetail with this stream in my head about "the stories we tell ourselves about our relationship to technology."


By the way, how did you get the co comment thing to show up in your sidebar? And how did you find time to do it?

4/18/2006 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger bev trayner said...

Thanks Nancy .. and yes, that stream in your head is filtering into mine too.

You can get the code for co-comment thing on their page: Tools/share and "pimp your blog"!

4/23/2006 02:07:00 PM  

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