Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Digital resilience

I've just read a post by Bill Ferriter entitled Technology will kill where he stresses the need for us to become digitally resilient. This resilience is characterised by:

"The refusal to quit when confronted by blocked websites, antiquated tools, or technology decisions that are not aligned with a new vision for teaching and learning."

The post was in response to the frustration of seeing a long-trusted service, in this case Google Reader, getting suddenly killed off because it was no longer viable. This is of course one of the hard facts of life in the perpetual beta world of free social media. They're only free as long as their owners have a valid business case and whenever the business case weakens it either gains a price tag or they pull out the plug on it. Digital resilience is about the ability to quickly adapt and find a new solution or even have a plan B in the wings.

Another side of this resilience is having the patience to try again. Many of us try a new technology once and when it doesn't work perfectly, we decide that it wasn't as good as it was cracked up to be - "I told you it wouldn't work." Many have unrealistically high expectations of technology; that it should be completely intuitive and can be mastered with a minimum of effort. Maybe the industry is to blame for pushing the user-friendly argument rather too often and forgetting to add that user-friendly doesn't mean that the device or tool requires no skill. Learning takes time and involves a lot of trial and error. Mastery demands sweat and sometimes tears. Although many digital tools are fairly easy to learn at a rudimentary level you need to work hard to really produce impressive work.

Digital resilience also means having the confidence to use technology even if colleagues are skeptical and there is little support. Finding ways around obstacles and having the patience to test and fail till you get it right.

Bill's post includes a video that isn't quite in tune with digital resilience but does show how technology is quietly rendering many familiar tools, devices and methods obsolete often completely behind our backs. Worth watching here as well.

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