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Overwhelmed 2.0 February 14, 2008

Posted by cjescribano in social networking, tools, Web 2.0.

Overwhelmed 1.0
During Overwhelmed 1.0, I was bogged down writing storyboards for converting hundreds of hours of instructor-led training to e-learning. Then, when learners couldn’t stand taking that much e-learning all at once, I was busy combining e-learning with classroom sessions and job aids to create a “blended solution.”

Too Many Possibilities
With Web 2.0, I’m overwhelmed all over again, but in a different way. Now, I’m overwhelmed with all the possibilities for blending–so many tools and technologies to deliver content, training, and information to my target audience. Just when I’m starting to figure out to use a blog or a wiki in my training solutions, I discover that perhaps I should find out about Twittr. Then suddenly, all my friends are inviting me to join their social networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and ning. Oh, and I can’t forget the whole new world that text-messaging opens up.

Learning Takes Time
I love these tools. Their potential excites me. But to really use a tool well, you need time to play with it and get to know it. My colleague, Rob, is a genius with Adobe Presenter (formerly Breeze). We’ve worked on several projects together, and he never ceases to amaze me with the clever ways he works around the “walls” of the tool. If someone says, “Presenter doesn’t do that,” Rob takes it as a challenge to figure out how. He refuses to take “no” for an answer. And because he works with, and more importantly, plays with Presenter almost everyday, he knows its rules well enough to break them.

But There Is No Time
You can’t know a tool that well if you’re trying to learn 12 different tools at once–at least I can’t. I get overwhelmed. And yet, it’s my  job to know enough about these tools to help my clients use them to meet their needs.

So, what’s an overwhelmed person to do?
Well, my answer to that question is to use my network. I don’t have to know all about every tool because I have colleagues who do. I can specialize in one or two, learn their rules (so I can break them). Then when I need help with LiveWriter, I can turn to Dennis. Or I can ask Cindy about wikis, Laura for Facebook, Joe for Flash, and of course, Rob for Presenter.

That’s the beauty of a social network, right? It’s like a zone defense. If we each cover a couple of tools, we’ll have the whole field covered. And we can still sleep at night.

So, what’s your answer?
How do you keep up with all the new tools?



1. Dan - February 22, 2008

Have you considered the possibilities of multiple social networks? I find that in a closed social network we often find ourselves recycling what has worked in the past. To break out of that loop, we need to identify and participate in multiple networks. I think I have 5 – my coworkers, my academic cohort, a group of former coworkers and clients from a past employer, my shipmates from the past, and the last one, which I like to call my underground social network, is comprised of an online community of misfits (myself included). When I have a problem to solve I typically seek advise from more than one of these.

2. cjescribano - February 23, 2008

Yes, I also have multiple social networks–both online and offline. Online, I’ve got two in Facebook, one in LinkedIn, and one in ning. But it’s a lot of work to keep up with all of those. And I end up overwhelmed all over again.

3. Dan - February 27, 2008

Maybe we interpret the maintenance of a social network differently. I am not convinced that a social network needs to be active, or more appropriately stated – interactive. Just last week I was faced with a coding problem that seemed to be stumping those around me so I reached out to Bo in another network. The last time I saw Bo was Feb 07, and the last time I had communicated with him was Oct 07. Yet within about two hours after reaching out to him the dialogue leading to the solution was started.

I would ask, are the people on your Christmas card list part of a social network? How many on that list do you normally communicate with only at Christmas? I am not suggesting that a social network can go several years with no interaction, but I do feel that one can be maintained with infrequent communication.

Is it possibly that the lack of intimacy inherent in online social networks necessitates more work to maintain them?

4. cjescribano - February 29, 2008

Good questions, Dan. I heard a speaker this past week at TechKnowledge who said that in order to make these “Web 2.0 tools” seem useful and not something extra, they need to be integrated into the flow of work–kind of the way e-mail is. We don’t think of e-mail as something extra usually. It’s something we check as part of the job. Your story about connecting with Bo is a great example of that.

I’m currently in a blogging social network, but I’ve been distracted by other things lately so I haven’t been active in the network. But next week, when I start revamping my blog, I will probably become VERY active.

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