In a manner of speaking I wanted to understand the technological revolution that had happened “behind me.” By this I mean that at 58 years of age, I didn’t grow up with so-called “new media,” which includes social media. Actually, I didn’t grow up with computers of any kind.
I find my way around Facebook pretty well. I even “tweet” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers. I’ve used RSS feeds, sent text messages, and blogged. I know what Flickr is but haven’t used it much, nor have I accessed many podcasts—but I plan to record and distribute audio podcasts shortly. I can navigate the Internet with relative ease. But I hadn’t until this weekend caught up with and climbed the learning curve of video and audio media.
Long story short, over the weekend I took advantage of the infinite number of tutorials available online, on Apple and YouTube in particular. I must have watched more than 50 videos. A lot of viewing, but now I can import a video into iMovie, edit it, and export it to YouTube, iDVD, or some other final resting place (and I have).
I finally understand the general process by which audio or video content becomes accessible, including how it is compressed, which is to say I now know the difference between an MP3 and an MP4. I can post audio and video to my website. And oh yes, I “get” keywords or meta tags, understand embedding videos, and can come pretty close to creating my own ebook. Audiobooks are much more challenging, and maybe as yet less useful. But ebooks are here to stay and increasing in popularity thanks to Kindle, iPad, and the Nook.
I now understand enough new media lingo and functionality to be dangerous. I can’t do everything, but now I can at least talk to more sophisticated techies to get done what I need done. Things have come a long way.
I remember first using a Digital VAX mainframe computer when I was in graduate school at the University of Akron. Some students were learning BASIC, COBOL, and other early programming languages. But I was fortunate enough to come along when packaged programs were being marketed as user-friendly ways for non-techies to use computers. To compute our regression analyses as political science graduate students we used SPSS, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, or SAS, Statistical Analysis Software, still being marketed today. At UA I sat at IMB punch card machines and typed/punched IBM cards to form the “Job” we’d submit to the computer center, then wait, holding our breath. That was 1978-79.
A few years later while pursuing my doctorate, 1980-82, at the University of Cincinnati I worked at the Behavioral Sciences Laboratory (later known as the Institute for Public Policy Research). Here we used SPSS and SAS too, but now we’d moved up the ladder to remote terminals. No more punch cards, no more waiting at the computer center. Here we got feedback on the screen. Here also I saw my first “PC.”
During my first two university assignments I used a PC. Eventually I had to learn about websites, blogs, and emerging social media. Before that, I had to learn how to switch from overhead projectors to PowerPoint slides and video projectors. I did. I even learned to craft my own Ppt presentations so I could model this frontier thinking for faculty members and so I wouldn’t have to depend upon administrative assistants, thus could build my own Ppts the night before if I wished.
Learning is about investment. That’s all. It takes some time and effort, but the dividends can be huge. This I enjoy.
A couple of months ago I talked to a middle-aged pastor and said I’d email him if he gave me his address. He told me his wife did his email and that he wasn’t on computers. I didn’t say anything to him, but I was nearly stunned. How can a person, much less a leader, function well today if he or she remains willingly unconnected and unconcerned to boot?
So, when it came to video and audio I had to climb the learning curve. Or if you prefer, I had to catch the wave. I think I’ve caught it, even if I’m not yet riding it. Surfing that wave is the next thing to learn.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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