MY Hines

Warning: Tech Dangerous

Posted on: January 19, 2010

I find great satisfaction when I get done with a webinar or some sort of training that gives me something to blog about – especially if I can blog about it for days. I enjoyed the Ask The Tech presented by NTEN so much today as they featured Jeff Ello, who is now one of my favorite columnists on ComputerWorld. The biggest point was made that we can’t really call people ‘Tech Savvy” because they are more like “Tech Dangerous”.

And once it was uttered, the big giant yellow light bulb moment happened. Those two words went combined together gave the perfect picture of what can happen to a nonprofit when there are some staff that know some about technology. Those people might consider themselves the ‘tech savvy’ but deep down, don’t you believe that these are going to be your most dangerous users to your network?

I think I would much rather work with a person who is not very comfortable on a computer. What are they truly going to do? They may hestitate on trying things, but they are going to follow the rules. They aren’t going to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and they surely aren’t going to be bringing in shiny new geek toys to use. If they make a mistake, it’s probably an honest mistake.

But the “tech dangerous’ – those people scare me. You want to embrace them because they can be powerful force in helping you to bring along the non-techies. However, you always have to be watching out for that shiny new geek toy that was plugged into the network that is now sucking resources away from the network. They are also very bright and will challenge your decisions. They may also be the type that find it hard to accept that work computers are not the same as home computers (i.e. I should be able to do this here if I can do it from home).

When you put new policies in place because of something going wrong on the network, who is truly for? Is it for the non-techies or the tech dangerous? I would say almost 75% of the time it is for the tech dangerous people that we are making changes to our network (along with policies and procedures).

So now how do we leverage the tech dangerous and make them our allies rather than those that we have to strategically plan for handling in our networks? How do we let them see the network has a whole instead of just their own personal little view?

Interesting thoughts…. Ideas on neutralizing the danger of these tech dangerous users are needed: STAT!

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5 Responses to "Warning: Tech Dangerous"

Michelle – great post, as usual! I too loved the “tech dangerous” moniker. I really get where you are coming from here. Although – I think there’s another way to look at these super savvy users. They may wreak havoc from time to time, but sometimes that havoc is GOOD. Sometimes, the changes they implement them selves are better for your department, the org, your mission. I think the trick is how to harness all the energy and enthusiasm for good! Or, how to maintain an IT system that is rigid enough to protect the organization, but flexible enough to accommodate a little bottoms up innovation.

Holly – I entirely get your comment. I guess maybe it is important to recognize that I kind of had staff segmented into different types – IT staff, power users, “tech savvy” or “tech dangerous”, novices, non-techies, and tech indifferent. (I know, that’s a lot of groups, but in my mind it sort of works.) I know the goal now is how to take those “tech savvy”/”tech dangerous” and move them into the power user role. Right now, at least for me, they are two different groups.

You might need to add another moniker, say: “techno luddite.” Users who are still using the hammer they’ve always used (an example would be myself: who still uses Homesite for editing HTML), and dismissive of anything new.

But people can be “dangerous” or “luddite” at any level of userhood methinks… although IT staff (who’ve likely been power users a long time) possibly tend to “luddite” and and newer users tend to be “dangerous.” Which is why IT can often seem to be a roadblock.

Adrian – this is a great point too – especially about the roadblock concept. I think sometimes most of my job is just working thru the roadblocks that occur day-to-day. It can be draining. I’ve recently been made a Technology Director and am trying to establish that the greatest percentage of my time should be spent on the “future” or “what is next to come” vs. the “past” or “supporting what already is in place”. Most often those roadblocks are a hinderance to the future. It’s great to hear other opinions – when I first began nonprofit tech work – I don’t think I had many places to turn for resources and support.

[…] About My Hines Warning: Tech Dangerous […]

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