Why Performing Arts and Web 2.0? I'll get to that, but probably not this post.
First the confessions - I am a luddite... I don’t hate looms, but I do hate technology, mostly because it doesn't do what it says, it isn't intuitive, and often has a high learning curve. (I now have a MAC and that helps!) For me there were 2 moments which where transformational for me in this regard.... that is, when I switched from loving technology to despising it.
In the early 80's I was working for Somerset Wine Company as an accountant (self-taught of course - but with a great mentor - Percy). I was a wiz at reconciling the books - a task no other in the company was able to do... The computer system was card driven... All these big stacks of 2 x 8 cards that were fed into the big thing – God forbid they get dropped and out of order! We got our first desk-top - it had one drive that had 16K. Later we got one with 2 drives: One drive for the program file and the other for our data. Way cool! Multiplan was the best thing ever! (Yikes - I didn’t realize it was from Microsoft til just this moment…. )
We got DBase. Whoohoo! What an amazing program. I spent months learning it and becoming a master. Then.... Transformation One: Then dBaseII came out, and there was not one little tiny itsy bitty thing that was the same about it. In other words it felt like all those months I had spent, while useful in learning basics of databases, had to be thrown out, and I had to start over again from scratch. That was painful.
We learned Multiplan, then LOTUS! Boy was that great.... I learned macros and all sorts of nifty stuff. It was all so new and exciting! I moved to another company, and then they didn't have Lotus. Well I did, but everyone else had Excel. While I retained all my basic spreadsheet wisdom, gone were all the macros, and other neat deep down stuff.
It was so frustrating to spend time learning and mastering something, only to have it disappear and be replaced by the next greatest thing. Discerning minds had to make decisions.
What was my goal? Keeping up with being the best at all the latest technology... or was it something else? Something else was the goal.
At the time, technology was just a tool for me. As Orchestra Manager of the Detroit Symphony, I was working on budget forecasts at a time when the dollars out far exceeded the dollars in. “How were we going to survive this week” was the burning issue. No time for trying to re-create that macro in Excel.
So I became technology stupid. Stuff needed to work within say 5 minutes… 20 max. Otherwise, call in the husband. Go out for an Americano. I could no longer afford to invest in becoming the expert at stuff that was not core to the mission.
Fast Forward. My Job has become helping performing arts use technology effectively. Now I know a little about a very lot. I’ve extended my 20 minutes max rule from time to time, and have taken to heart Beth Kanter’s technostress coping strategies.
The point of all this, is that we have to always keep in mind the goal, and see how the technology can help us not consume us. When is it for us to be strategic, and do the big picture thing, and when do we hire a hand to help with the nitty gritty. What is quite wonderful is seeing the great and helpful teammates and colleagues sharing their wisdom and resources on the web. We’ll be counting on them as we move forward into building our Web 2.0 Strategy Plan!