In 2009, resolve to learn something new about technology, or to experiment with something that isn’t exactly new, but is new to you.
Here are some possibilities:
- Participate in a professional network such as LinkedIn or Spoke. If you already belong to such a network, try upping your level of participation: ask and answer questions, join special interest groups, make new connections, expand your network.
- Read a key text about the role of technology in business and culture. Interesting places to begin include
- Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Clay Shirky
- The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler
- Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Change Everything, Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
- The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, Chris Anderson.
- Master one small but essential technological task that you usually rely on others to do. For instance, learn to make a .pdf of a document, learn to download or upload a video, learn to edit a photograph, learn to run your email to you cell phone, or learn to scan an image and embed it in a document. An amazing number of business leaders who make key purchasing decisions about technology routinely rely on others to complete such simple tasks for them. Knowledge is power. If you build your familiarity with technology, and gradually add to your mastery of it, your decisions will flow from experience and understanding, and will be the better for it.
- Launch or participate in building a blog or a wiki. Of course, there are already countless blogs and wikis in the world, and a good case could be made for being reluctant to add to the cacophony. However, if you don’t have some hands on experience with “Web 2.0” technologies, you severely limit your understanding of how to employ these technologies to enrich your personal and professional life. Intimidated? Start small! Try visiting the Wikipedia entry about an area in which you are knowledgeable. If you see errors or omissions there, correct them. Even something that simple will give you insight that most who read about these things from a distance lack.
- Create and upload a YouTube video. If you have a computer with an attached video camera, then you are a potential video producer. Whether you create a serious instructional video or just record your thoughts on a given issue, the act of creating and uploading a video will sharpen your insight into the phenomenon of user created content.
- Build your social proprioception. All around you, people are texting, twittering, and plurking. Collectively, these folks–many of them young, educated, and generally in key consumer demographics–are changing the face of branding and marketing. If you don’t at least experiment with these “always on” communication tools, you’ll never have a truly firm grasp of their possibilities. There’s no time like 2009 for diving in.
Learning in the realm of technology is all about hands-on exploration and play. Do read, but don’t let your reading take place in a vacuum. When you build your experience, you put yourself in a good position to discern which theories of modern communication are best suited for putting into action.
AxisPortals Aphorism: Ignorance is vulnerability. Lifelong learning is the best, most fulfilling path to technological confidence.