I’m in the midst of a full blown geek identity crisis. At one point I was becoming known as the one who was switched on; the guru; the one who’d know about an emerging technology if anyone was going to know. I don’t think I fit that description anymore.
It started with a post today on ReadWriteWeb (“What Ever Happened to…Start Pages“) about how passe start pages like iGoogle and Netvibes are.
Then I start seeing exchanges on Twitter such as:
All of this got me to thinking. I still have a start page; I like my start page, and it’s iGoogle. I also use Netvibes occasionally and think it’s still really handy.
I’m not one to abandon older technologies simply because something shinier comes along. I still prefer to read text on paper than on screen. I voluntarily take notes with a pen (or “biro” to the Aussies) rather than an iPad; scribble to-do lists in the margins rather than digital sticky notes. I’m very selective about what I post to Facebook or online elsewhere. All of this works for me.
So the thought that older methods are somehow “training wheels” helping us become digital grownups just isn’t sitting well with me. Either I’m growing old fashioned and out of date, I’m losing my geek street cred, or Silicon Valley is increasingly out of touch with reality. To be honest I think it’s a bit of everything.
The influence of Academia
It’s undeniable to me that Academia is in the tail end of the Long Tail when it comes to technological innovation. Especially in a research-intensive institution like the one I’m at, the pressure is constantly on tradition and “the way it’s always been.” So I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that has seeped into my perspective and I’ve become more risk averse.
Further, in education more broadly there is the ever present expectation of a new method proving its efficacy and effectiveness before it replaces an existing process. That’s the whole nature behind “evidence based practice” and “scholarly endeavor;” though the ideas of Action Learning and Experiential Learning have slowly begun to advocate different approaches.
Yet despite the innovative, “let’s give it a go” ethos behind Action and Experiential Learning, many staff in higher education don’t pursue these practices themselves. So given my familiarity with conservative, risk averse academic opinion and the fact I’ve developed strategies to connect with them in their own contexts, it’s not a far cry to starting to share those philosophies myself and losing sight of my own.
Have I become a conservative pseudo-academic? The ones in the staff meetings screaming “You can SOE my PC but not my Pedagogy!” My God, tell me it isn’t so!
Quick, quick. I need to think of something reckless to do!