I’m well known for jumping on the latest tech as soon as someone makes mere mention of it — clearly, I embrace my label of disruptive technologist. If it exists, if it’s new, I’m playing with it and, in all likelihood, breaking it, trying to see how far I can take it and what can it be used for, even if few people around me are in this same space (Google Wave, anyone?). And while I will admit that I am clearly a bleeding edge adopter in the technology lifecycle, working in higher ed makes a person acutely aware that change is hard. Hard for the traditionalists, the administrators, the folks that don’t trust new because it hasn’t been tried and tested in the rigor of the workplace. I get the concept of risk aversion, really I do (there’s a comfort and safety in being one of the majority), but when safety gets in the way of innovation, we are doing ourselves a real disservice to higher ed.
We must break this mold.
Maybe it’s writing code, or trying new technology, or exploring a new method of collaboration. Perhaps you aren’t bleeding edge, but we can hardly afford to ignore the new shiny when, as an industry, we yearn to be leading edge.
If you write code for a living, you probably follow fellow code-writers (on your favorite following service of choice) and read what they have to say about the new shiny they are currently working on. You probably follow them because they often write about their new shinys. Their new shinys are usually really shiny, and when they release a demo of shiny it’s really freakin’ cool.
You probably wish you were coding something new and shiny too. So you read some tutorials and give the shiny a try. But the shiny is just so new and fragile and intricate that you quickly get to a point where you can’t do anything more with it: too confusing, kind of broken. Since you can’t do anything with the new shiny anyway — it sure as hell isn’t going into your produciton environment anytime soon — you put it away.
So you pick up the shiny shiny again, which is really much more brillant than it was when you first played with it. Maybe you can do more with it this time. Maybe you get lost in the super shininess of it for a whole evening.
But then you go back to working on a project with your non-shinies. Maybe it’s a big big project and now you can’t find the time to get to the shiny again.
Then a year or so goes by. In that year you’ve worked on some projects that were challenging, rewarding, frustrating and exciting, but never with the shiny.