Sep
1
2010

Toys of Labor – Mixing work and gadgets

There are times when the work you get paid to do involves the labor you enjoy. Lately I have been inundated with gadgets ranging from HD video delivery to tablets with dual screens.  I even had the opportunity to tinker around with a pico projector!  As a gadget fiend, this recent exploration at work has been intoxicating.  What I struggle with at times is figuring out how to exert my expertise within the proper context for a particular technology.  Confused?  Me too, let me try to explain.

Like every other warm-blooded male with excessive cognitive surplus, I have an insatiable appetite for things that light up, make noise, or otherwise keeps me entertain from the palm of my hand.  I also have a critical eye for detail.  This compulsive behavior results in hours of reading through technical specs, reviews, deep UI exploration and even meticulously exploring every nook and cranny for fit and finish.  The end result is finding a happy medium of what a toy can do for me and what I am willing to live with on things it cannot.  I wish all of this was an exaggeration but that is who I am.  (Thank goodness I found a woman that gets me!)

On a personal level, this all works harmoniously, however at my job, I have to do something that is foreign.  I have to think of how a device would be used by someone other than myself.  Oh dear god the travesty of such a concept!  Seriously though, as I explore pedagogical practices of liberal arts campuses, I begin to understand the context of technology exploration.  More importantly I begin to understand the need to break away from the allure of devices and focus on the practices that should reference the features to be explored.  In other words, rather than focus on reviewing a device and it’s features that could possibly be used in a high touch teaching/learning environment, I must understand what practices are currently utilized.  This will allow me to gather the necessary requirements to evaluate technology with the proper context.

So how do one go about finding the kind of requirements needed for context?  Let’s add a social element that is a bit more familiar.  When you are looking to add someone to help with your workflow, you create a job description and a list of duties that you would like this new person to perform.  With that description, you then interview potential candidates to see how well they match up.  In the end, you select a person that is fairly close to what you are looking for with an understanding of what this person cannot do.

You would not hire a person off the street that just looks cool yet that is what we do with gadgets, heck that is what I do! (with gadgets, focus on the analogy here folks)  These are the requirements I am looking for.  This is how I need to evaluate the toys I covet.  So how am I doing?  Well you are just going to have to find out at my work blog.  As for practicing what I preach, I think I am going to apply this type of methodology to future reviews.  What is my story.  What job is available for gadget to be interviewed for.  Does this make sense or is it pointless ramblings from a man who needs more sleep.  Don’t answer that.

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