Monday, March 12, 2012

Don’t let technology rule your life

You all struggled and ruminated over the role of technology in the library and the way it takes over your life. Most of all I think that this issue revolves around how librarians and information scientists interact with technology. Does it rule your life or do you use it as a tool? If you looked at Postman’s Technopoly, this question will be pop into your minds. Technostress falls into the same category as the role of technology in your professional lives. Is the technology so stressful that you are no longer productive, because you jump from site to site, from task to task without being able to focus on any idea, thought or notion for any period of time?


David Levy, an important librarian and scholar, thinks and writes seriously and deeply about information and research. He is concerned, along with Grafton and Darnton, about the loss of our abilities to focus and to think deeply. See David M. Levy "CONTEMPLATING SCHOLARSHIP IN THE DIGITAL AGE"


I agree that deep thinking and the ability to focus are important skills to cultivate. As librarians, we must be able to concentrate on the questions before us and to focus on retrieving the essential information, winnowing out the less important "noise" or data. Some might call this active listening, but it is more than that, it is focusing on the entire question during the reference interview, not jumping to work on the question before the patron is finished talking. Master this skill of focus and attentive listening and you will be on your way to being an effective reference librarian.


Technostress is more than the juggling projects and actions. It is the inability to focus on information or projects for more than a few seconds or minutes at a time. Your attention span becomes so fragmented that nothing is accomplished. One way to combat technostress is to unplug from technology, for minutes, hours, or even a day. You have to start small to break away from an addiction to technology, so start with 15 minutes every few hours, or disconnect during lunch instead of surfing the web. Take time on the weekends or your day off to get away from the computer and the web. Just unplug. Instead take the time to talk to friends, take a walk, read a book. You will be surprised at how well you can focus when your attention is not pulled in different directions. 

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