Plenty of things worth writing about Kevin Kelly’s post on “Techno Life Skills.” Kelly’s point of departure is that learning how to master any specific technology is less important than learning how to adapt to, use, and understand any technology that emerges (or that meets your newly emergent needs).
Here are a few notes about how technology frames us, how we think, and what we can do:
• Tools are metaphors that shape how you think. What embedded assumptions does the new tool make? Does it assume right-handedness, or literacy, or a password, or a place to throw it away? Where the defaults are set can reflect a tool’s bias.
• What do you give up? This one has taken me a long time to learn. The only way to take up a new technology is to reduce an old one in my life already. Twitter must come at the expense of something else I was doing — even if it just daydreaming.
• Every new technology will bite back. The more powerful its gifts, the more powerfully it can be abused. Look for its costs.
And a few more about accepting the limits of your own knowledge, and how your ignorance isn’t a defeat:
• Understanding how a technology works is not necessary to use it well. We don’t understand how biology works, but we still use wood well.
• Nobody has any idea of what a new invention will really be good for. To evaluate don’t think, try.
• Find the minimum amount of technology that will maximize your options.
I think these last three observations might be both Kelly’s most powerful and the most true.
Update: I forgot maybe the number-one smart, accept-your-own-ignorance observation, which Alan Jacobs rightly pulled:
• You will be newbie forever. Get good at the beginner mode, learning new programs, asking dumb questions, making stupid mistakes, soliticting help, and helping others with what you learn (the best way to learn yourself).