The Importance of the Non-Techie or How I Learned to Stop Pulling Out My Hair and Love my Luddite
by: Mick Jacobsen
My wife mocks Twitter thoroughly, “You don’t even know these people,” she repeats. She thinks Facebook/MySpace is weird. She considers online gaming to be silly. She wasn’t sure about this whole “Blog Thing” and renamed my Google Reader an RSS aggravator (which I still find hilarious). She doesn’t want her images on Flickr. I think it is safe to say she pretty much dislikes any 2.0 technology on contact.
Last week she started a LibraryThing account and loves it. She is now using my Facebook account to talk to friends. She uses Delicious to bookmark webpages. She has her own RSS aggregator (Google Reader) and iGoogle page. She even created and wrote for a special interest blog on WordPress.com.
What does this have to do with librarianship? Well, doesn’t that first paragraph (besides the wife part) describe a significant portion of your coworkers? Wouldn’t it be great if you could move them to the second?
Here is how I do it:
1. Listen. Never dismiss what your Luddite says. You may not see how it applies, but it surely does in their eyes. When, and it is most certainly when, not if, they have misgivings about a technology it may be necessary to move on. You might be introducing the wrong technology at that particular time or you may need to reexamine the technology. The Luddite may very well have thought of something you haven’t and it may not be as useful as you hope (I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me).
2. Don’t push too hard (if you can avoid it). Sometimes all it takes is talking to them at the right time. Understand their schedule. Some people are ready to play at the start of the day, some after lunch, some while eating lunch, etc. The first time I introduced my wife to LibraryThing she wasn’t interested. A few months later she noticed me using it (looking at all my pretty book covers) and asked “What is this and why did you never tell me about it before?” A minute or two of introduction and away she went. This also has proven to be true with a few of my coworkers in regards to the newly created blogs at MPOW .
3. Respect. Their concerns are not generated from hate of tech. (well in most cases) or lack of intelligence; it is because they don’t see the point. Show how you are personally using this new technology, how others are using it, and how they specifically could. Hypothetical situations just don’t seem to work.
I am sure more techniques are available, but these three are the ones that have worked for me so far. What does everybody else do?
As a side note it is probably better not call anybody a Luddite.
Mick Jacobsen is Adult Services Librarian at the Skokie Public Library.