The Power Of Tools

gone dark today in protest of SOPA and PIPA, and while I respect any action to stop these bills, I’m personally more a fan of speaking up than protesting. Regardless if your site is light, dark or even non-existent, if you care about censorship please take a moment today to contact your Congressional representative and voice your concern. Now without further ado, a conveniently timed, yet completely unrelated tale about how people should fully understand technology before they decide what to do with it.Note: I know that much of the web has

Last week a member of my family who will remain nameless finally upgraded from the iPhone 3S to the 4S. Now I’m not going to focus in on the fact that he was reluctant to upgrade because, “I love my current phone and hear it is better than the newer models,” although I could easy write an entire series of posts on why that is just adorable. What really surprised me was this persons reluctance to fully learn the benefits of the new model.

Like most geeks, I tend to be the family IT person. Get a new device, have a question, I’m your guy. When an update happens, I tend to pop up to make sure you’ve upgraded and show you around a bit. We all have our roles in our families, and that’s certainly mine. Not only was said unnamed family member on the old phone, but he was still on iOS 4.1, so I had quite a few things show off. Things started off well enough as people love playing with Siri for the first time, but when we got to the Reminders app, my loving family member was very reluctant to learn how location based reminders (easily one of the best features of the app) work. It wasn’t as if he understood it and decided it wasn’t for him, he wouldn’t even hear about it. It was a “you use the device your way and I’ll use it mine” moment, but I persisted and he obviously loved the functionality once he understood it.

We assume a lot. We assume we already know how to get the most out of our devices. We assume our way is best (and if you’re half as stubborn as I am, you often insist that your way is best), but it isn’t until we truly know what a device or an app is capable of that we are in the best position to decide how it can benefit our lives. Unlocking the power of our tools comes in knowing what they are capable of. While it takes time to learn every nuance of an app, you should at least take the time to fully grasp its capabilities.

Despite my own frustrations with the experience, it was an illuminating moment. Something that reinforced why we need to organize and learn our technology before we begin using it. Sure, this particular experience may be a small thing on the surface, but when you start to think about all the little ways that we don’t fully understand the potential of the technologies we already possess, you begin to understand why we aren’t fully taking advantage of them. Because more often than not, when we think our technology is the problem, it almost always turns out to be our own lack of a understanding as to how they work.

We already have more power than we will likely need in the tools at our disposal, we just need to take the time to learn them rather than simply use them. Especially when you have a mildly obsessive geek in the family such as myself who is willing to walk you through the process.

Do you really understand the power of tools you are using or are you simply using them?


  1. You can lead a family member to water…  

3 Responses to The Power Of Tools

  1. Michael, I made a similar statement regarding blacking out your website yesterday morning. I thought it was fishy that webmasters got 4 days off this week for MLK day and SOPA protest day (a joke of course). It turns out that the blackouts were extremely effective at drawing awareness to SOPA. WIkipedia actually got more hits yesterday than normal, and several congressman reversed their support of anti-piracy bills.

    • Well played on the wisecrack :) I didn’t object to the blackouts as much as some others, the tactic just wasn’t for me. And if I were to say to you that I thought they were ineffective, I’d effectively be lying to you. That said, I also think there was a lot of bandwagon jumping and think you’d have a hard time saying that as many people care about SOPA and PIPA as they did yesterday (not that I think you are saying that). It’s a victory, but this is a war not a battle. Congress has way more experience waiting out protests and renaming or rebranding bad bills. The most important thing yesterday was awareness (mission accomplished) the long term is fundraising for groups that will keep dealing with this tomorrow. And something tells me the amount raised was disproportionally low.

      Then again more people truly care than did two days ago, so it’s a start.

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