Saturday, 29 September 2007

Seeing the bigger picture – the problem with focusing on technology

We understand everything from a position of prior knowledge, and make assumptions based on that knowledge. These two videos illustrate this point beautifully – one is the old Guardian advert from the 80’s, promoting the paper’s unbiased views, the other, a video cartoon using familiar images (!) as a starting point, and creating something completely different from them. In both cases, it’s the bigger picture that is important, not your initial assumptions.

We tend to jump to conclusions based on our existing knowledge and prior experiences, to focus on just one part of what we are seeing and experiencing to such an extent that we sometimes fail to see the bigger picture – this I feel is the case with social networking and our dependance on technology. I feel we are spending too much time thinking and talking about web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, library 2.0 etc etc, and not enough time understanding the human element of the changes that are occuring in work and business, and indeed, in our social lives at this time. We are concentrating on what we know, focusing in on just one part of the picture. I’m guilty of this as much as the next person, but it’s starting to concern me.

Yes, the internet helps us to connect and share and communicate and collaborate – but are we doing this to the deteriment of having quality, real life interactions? The bigger picture has technology as ELEMENT of what’s happening. It’s an enabler, not an end in itself. Email has reduced the number of telephone calls we make, texting is the communication tool of choice for millions of people – what about conversation? I spend more time on Facebook than I do meeting up with the people I’m communicating with!

The bigger picture – surely it’s about humanity and not technology? Maybe we should all get out more….

1 comment:

bschlenker said...

Hi Helen,
I've been researching, writing, and presenting on the topic of technology in education for many years now. And lately my schtick has been, "it's about the people, not the technology".
I think its natural for us, at first, to focus on new technologies because they are new and we need to understand them a little. Once we do, then its time to start focusing on the human element.
For many of us that time is now, but for the vast majority of the population web2.0 technologies are still a mystery and something to be afraid of.
I love your post, and especially like the videos. I've seen the first one before but the second was new to me. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.