Little did I know when I first saw the Mosaic web browser "surf" the Internet back in 1992, that the digital age would be so pervasive in our society two decades later. I have worked in computing technology my entire career so I am completely at home with a digital life. I began with Mainframes, Minicomputers, and Personal Computers in the early years, and have come to embrace the impressive innovations that Apple has introduced since 2001. However, I fully realize that much of our society is not as comfortable with the techno-life that now envelops us.
I am called on often to help friends, acquaintances, and clients with various computer and "smart device" questions, problems, and support. I see the confusion and frustration that the techno-life is creating for many people. Don't get me wrong, I believe that technology offers many benefits to us all. I also recognize that much of the younger generation, that has not known anything other, is generally very comfortable operating in this environment. But, from first hand experience I can certainly say that there are people of all walks and ages that are less welcoming to its impact on our daily life.
So is the constant interaction we now experience with technology helpful or hurtful? That is obviously a difficult question to ponder. Each person will have a different take on this subject as it relates to their specific place in life. Howevert, we cannot deny the fact that we are increasingly being pushed to interact with technology. In one sense we are embracing this digital world. The vast majority of Americans own a computer and a cell phone, if not a smart phone. Nonetheless, this does not suggest we are using these tools to be more efficient and effective.
The manner in which working, shopping, communication, and even thinking has drastically changed. The digital world is shaping how we must live our lives. If we don't intentionally guide and evolve our interaction with technology, we may likely find ourselves overwhelmed and frustrated. So what are some strategies to support survival in this digital world?
1. Get a late model computer and/or smart phone (my preference and suggestion would be Apple products, MacBook Air, iPad or an iPhone are solid choices but of course there are many others as well)
2. Learn about one or two of the more popular social media tools (Twitter and Facebook are a good place to start)
3. Develop a strategy for ongoing technology learning and begin expanding your knowledge in some areas of interest
4. Learn how to effectively perform Internet searches to locate specific information (Google Search is hard to beat but there are other targeted search engines you may find useful)
5. Learn what a podcast is and find one or two to follow that are of interest
6. Check out YouTube or Vimeo to watch some videos that are "trending" or provide useful information (the number of instruction and training videos on the web are exponentially expanding)
7. Make a personalized online magazine with applications such as Flipboard and/or Zite
8. Investigate some of the email tools that help manage spam and organize email
9. Learn how to take and manage digital photos (iPhoto and Picasa are two good basic photography programs)
10. Try keeping a digital calendar
11. Convert your contacts to be online and digital
12. Learn about cloud storage and how it may be useful to you
13. Find a good resource you can go to for human support
14. If you are a "techie" be generous to help others who are just learning
This list identifies some of the many areas technology intersects with our lives. The list is not all inclusive. It is merely a start to some areas to build on to keep pace with a digital lifestyle. Hopefully, your are already familiar with some of the suggestions here. This will provide the foundation upon which you can take the next step to more sophisticated use and understanding. But, what if you are thinking 'I don't really care that much about staying current with technology advances'? The fact of the matter is we don't have a lot of choice. Some of us find ourselves in the position of yearning for more while others want to turn off the technology spigot. However, for now the die has been cast and we must deal with the results. Its up to us to grab the reigns, master areas we have an interest in, and be responsible productive people as we advance in this digital society.
What suggestions do you have for learning and becoming more proficient in the use of technology in order to keep pace with our digital society?