New Way to Think about Technology and Tools, Part 1 – Scene at the Airport

I’ve seen this scene a lot at the airport lately – a person on a cell phone, Blackberry, or laptop, sometimes plugged into the wall… talking or typing away. And it’s made me realize there’s a shift going on here – but not the one you’re thinking of.

Tell me – what do you think this person is doing? Is he:

  • chained to a device?
  • using a gadget?
  • doing email?

Or is this person:

  • connecting with others?
  • keeping up with friends?
  • checking in with his kids?

(ok, ok, I know… we obviously don’t really know what he’s doing. But let me make my point anyway :-)

See the shift? People used to think of computers and “gadgets” as primarily devices that you used – like using a typewriter. The activity was operating the machine.

But now, for some of us … when I turn on my computer, it’s more of a connector, like a telephone. With my laptop, I’m not “using the computer.” I’m writing. I’m editing video. I’m playing with photos. I’m writing music. I’m doing non-techie activities.

I don’t “use the phone” – I’m talking to someone. When I’m txting on my phone at the mall, I’m not “chained to my device” – I’m connecting with someone.

When I’m answering email, doing email” is not the activity – I’m answering questions, offering my input, or throwing out ideas to others. I am connecting with others.

See the shift? I’m not operating a machine anymore. I’m connecting with people. HUGE SHIFT!

Librarians – in order to connect with your younger and wired users, you need to adapt this same mind-set.

photo: http://flickr.com/photos/95911695@N00/2329436525/