Archive for May, 2006
He posts that:
Successful companies must look to their users and find out what they want. But the current technology industry, Coburn argues, is supplier-centric. They don’t look to their users and try to find incremental improvements that users are willing to adopt on a large scale. Instead, most technology companies look for the big kill, the huge product that will “revolutionize” they way people do something. Unfortunately, as Coburn points out, users don’t always want a revolutionary new do-everything satellite-enabled-PDA-talking-phone, sometimes they just want an easier to use mobile phone.
I agree that too many developers and tech start ups are looking for the "next big thing" — after all that is where fame and fortune lies!
However, the develpers are not the only ones looking for the "next big thing". Their financial backers may also have this short sighted view.
On the other side of the table are the organizational purchasers who are not always aware of what their users need. This is true, whether they call their users staff, employees, patrons, clients, or customers. Too many organizations do not know their end users well enough and instead get what they think will be "cutting edge", assuming that is better. There are quite a few business articles that try to warn the business executives away from buying the "shiny new toy" that is really a solution looking for a problem. Thus, to be fair, perhaps the tech companies are responding to the market.
I already reflected upon how purchasers help create the glut of technology that is not user centered. Michael also raises good points about the culture of change in general.
People do resist change — depending upon their personality the resistance can be quite strenuous. Coburn and other writers have raised the point that technology must solve a pain. If the tool is more onerous than dealing with the pain of a current situation — users will not bother with the new tool.
Michael concludes that:
Coburn’s argument parallels what many proponents of library change, including myself, have been saying all along – for change to be successful it must be continuous, regular, and almost imperceptible.
I agree that most people accept change better if it is not a complete upheaval of their work day. My first thougt was to the organizations that move slowly that change is ineffective. Decisions are weighted down in the quagmires of meeting after meeting to get "everyone on board." In trying to make everyone happy, I have seen projects fall so far behind that the technology has already been updated by the time implementation finally rolls around! So, how is it that in an organization that is paralyzed by change, that the change that emerges is threatening to the users?
In my experience, this immobility is related to fear. Fear of a loss of power — fear of not being the resident expert — fear of looking powerless — fear of losing tasks that are an integral part of their job. Caution may be warranted, but when it is accompanied by fear and distrust it is paralyzing and counter productive. I think the key element that seperates the slow moving fearful organization from the slow moving user – concious organization is that the change is contant. The fear driven slowness generates fits and starts when something is partly implemented, or implemented then rolled back. This becomes a choppy experience which will not create happy users! The slow and constant approach requires an overarching vision and steady hand that then uses tools as a means to solve asks in a way that is of benefit to their users.
David Isenberg reports that the telcos are showing their true colors when it comes to Net Neutrality. They are allowed to charge an ISP when their customers use the Telco's phone lines? This seems absurd and certainly — gives me no reason to trust them with issues like…say…not charging competition more when a Teco X's customer access that content. I figure that when people, and comanies say "Trust me" it is like the college boys who would say "Hey, I'm a nice guy!" If you have to tell me…then you aren't doing a good job of being nice (or trustworthy).
Is dial-up is an "information service" now? This is a huge step backwards. Verizon is discriminating against POTS calls to an ISP. (In the UK, friends of mine had a successful Campaign for Unmetered Telephony based on the fact that dial-up charges inhibit Internet use. (They succeeded.)) Even if you don't dial up anymore you should be concerned!
The Boston Globe reports: Dial-up provider loses Net access amid fee dispute Ruling favoring Verizon may hike price of service Service to thousands of dial-up Internet users in Massachusetts was disrupted this week after a federal court ruled against a Quincy company in a lawsuit that could have broad impact on the cost of dial-up service. The US Court of Appeals in Boston ruled April 11 that Verizon Communications Inc. can charge per-minute fees for calls to local numbers that dial-up users need to connect to the Internet — in much the same way that they charge for long-distance or other calls.
To read more go to David's blog. He has links to some other perceptive people writing about this incident as well.
found by way of J's Scratchpad
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Jessamyn comes through again !
She is a great source for low cost (free even!) tech that can help libraries (and other groups without the big bucks) still improve communication, creativity, and information organization.
. The talk is here: Doing More with Less, High Tech on a Shoestring. If you scroll all the way to the end of it and click on the “printable” link you can see the notes that I actually (sort of) read from.
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Michael, of Library Crunch, writes a post called Managing Our Expertise
I'm so excited to see knowledge management mentioned in the library context! One would think, though, that libraries would be a natural environment for KM. After all, libraries are about storing and exchanging information. However, the vital missing ingrediant, as Michael notes is a lack of knowledge transfer. It is difficult to capture ideas and experiences beyond the required statistical and usage reports. However, organizations in general have found that we need qualitative information as much as we need quantitative information.
I am convinced to the marrow of my bones that these fields that have become my passion can and need to learn from one another! Anyway, just a quick look at this note tonight.