Technology Without Influence

A week or so ago, I received my invitation to Google Wave and today I had a chance to play with it a bit before the heavy New England winds knocked out our power for a few hours. While its utilitarian nature remains to be discovered completely, it’s clear that this new device may combine much of what we use for social media in one place. In my job, I can immediately see its usefulness in educators collaborating around a specific project with Wave’s ability to document over time and quickly capture media. Of course, a Google Doc or Etherpad Doc might serve the same need so we have to be careful of technology lust overtaking our practicality. Nonetheless, is there any doubt that Google will be one of the major players to move us to the next stage of technology feeding our productivity via the Net?

I am also reading a fascinating book by Al Switzier, entitled Influencer: The Power To Change Anything. Among the enduring understandings in the book is that leaders can truly change the world if we use the influence strategies that have proved successful throughout time. Switzier states:

The fact that many of us don’t realize that it’s our duty to become good at exerting influence causes us a great deal of grief.

The author cites many examples of how successful influencers have used psychological strategies to turn lives around, cure an epidemic, or change the fate of a large company. As human beings, we have also leaned too heavily on cleaning up our messes rather than trying to fix the problem in the first place. Switzier cites a recent AIDS conference where only 10% of the sessions dealt with curing the disease. The vast majority of the workshops were concerned with helping those already afflicted, clearly an important component, but perhaps not where the emphasis needs to be.

How is technology and influence related? All of us entered the education profession to change the world for children. We are mistaken if we think that technology without influence and compassion will make any palpable difference.

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