New Features, New Context, Lowered Digital Fluency

On friday we conducted our first live Google+ hangout to discuss Digital Fluency the book and digital fluency the concept with a very insightful, entertaining group of people. Here is the recording of the discussion:

An interesting, and delightfully ironic thing happened during the broadcast, which you may or may not be able to pick up from the discussion. I felt my digital fluency diminishing.  Allow me to explain.

I have used Google+ hangouts to hold private meetings at least once per week since the feature was introduced several months ago, so i am quite comfortable with the technology, and my level of fluency—my ability to get the outcomes i desire and expect in that context—is relatively high. The session we ran on Friday, though, was broadcast live, requiring me, as the one hosting the session, to think about many more things: Who might be watching the live broadcast? Am i leading the discussion well? Is the fact that my camera is blurry going to lessen the quality of the recorded broadcast? What does this new button on the interface do..and what about that one?

As a result, i found it more difficult than i had expected to focus on the conversation. I found my mind wandering to the additional interface elements on the screen, thinking about who might be watching the broadcast live, and wondering about the implications of my blurry camera for the recorded broadcast. All of these thoughts took away from my ability to concentrate on the discussion. Like a fluent English speaker who is suddenly thrust into a conversation where he is forced to use new acronyms or a performer who goes from a studio practice session to a live broadcast, i felt a little less-fluent, finding it more difficult to achieve the outcome i desired.  Fortunately for me our guests took over and made the discussion interesting, and as we do more of these i will become more comfortable with the features and the context.

But it was a great reminder of an important point that bears mentioning: Digital fluency is never static. Every new medium, every new context, will force people of any digital fluency level to have to expand their level to meet the new challenge.



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