It’s not about the technology?

INATT makes sense because most of us realise that people make things happen, not technology. It’s not about the technology is a rallying cry amongst many in education or in fields that are being disrupted by information technology. Perhaps INATT, but:

  • Imagine organising an international group of collaborators without access to Voice over IP (costs increase) or without presence monitoring (who’s available in what time zone) or without shared documents online (what’s the latest version?).
  • Try to understand a different geographic market with no travel budget. Using Twitter, you could follow people who live and work in that area and get to know what’s important to them (free competitive intelligence).
  • Create a presence in a field while living in a small town far from a major urban centre (that’s me, using my blog for the past five years).
  • Keep up to your professional field without access to paid journal subscriptions, lectures or conversations with experts (many experts now publish material online –, as well as universities publish lectures online, and you can engage other professionals on blogs or Twitter).

Just think about the advantages that these technologies provide us in connecting, collaborating, sharing and learning. Now imagine organisations that do not use them. Would you say they are at a disadvantage? It’s not about the technology but it’s definitely not about ignoring the technology.

7 Responses to “It’s not about the technology?”

  1. Stephen Downes

    In most cases when I see INATT what I am seeing is a step in some sort of argument to the effect that things haven’t change, or that they should not change. INATT means that the primary determinate is human nature, and human nature (so the argument goes) does not change.

    Of course, the argument is not a successful one. For one thing, as you point out, it is also not about ignoring the technology. Even if our primary focus is human nature, technology plays a significant role. And second, human nature does change. What we want, what we believe, what we feel – all of these are influenced by technology. Directly.

  2. Virginia Yonkers

    And yet, just being devil’s advocate, there are many “successful” organizations especially in provincial towns where you and I both live. There are many small companies that just want to be big fish in little ponds and the non-technological approach, as they perceive it, makes them more “real”. “We speak to our customers face to face; we have e-mail, why do we need more; we have phones if we want an answer we simply make a call.”

    What do you say to these organizations?

  3. Harold Jarche

    I say I found the phone number to my local auto mechanic via Google. My question to people who aren’t on the Net, is “How do you find information about (fill in the blank)”. Most people use the Internet, especially Google, to find just about everything. If you do this, then your customers are probably doing it as well.

  4. Clark Quinn

    Harold, when I say INATT, it’s about meeting needs. It’s not that you don’t need technology, it’s that there is more than one way to do it, (e.g. Yahoo if you didn’t have Google for some reason). So it’s about the learning/human need, and finding a way to meet it. Don’t sell me FaceBook, sell me social networking, don’t sell me Google, sell me search. Sell me the solution, and then find me the best technology match. It may be that Ning, or Elgg is a better solution than FaceBook *for my need*. So, maybe It’s About A Technology, but It’s Not About The Technology.

  5. Virginia Yonkers

    Interesting, Harold, that you used that as an example. I was looking for a tux for my son to rent for his school’s military ball. I first tried the numbers the school had sent, but one number was a fax machine and the other was too far away from where we live. I then went to the phone book and tried some of the numbers. A sign of the times I guess, about half were out of order and I got answering machines for the others that were within driving distance. Finally, I googled it and began calling those listed that were closest to our house and on the way to my job. I found a place within the second call.

    Interestingly, this is an old established business that has been around since I went to high school (I didn’t think of it because it has been so long since I was in high school). I would have thought they would use the yellow pages (they weren’t listed in their) but instead they used google.

  6. Dave Ferguson

    Virginia reminds me that when the Yellow Pages arrived at my door last year, I picked it up and put it in the magazine file where I’d kept the previous year’s copy. That was the last time I’d touched the old one: using the Yellow Pages feels like writing on a chalkboard. Not that you can’t find something in the Y.P., or help learning happen by writing in chalk…

    It’s more like the great battle between AT&T and MCI. AT&T, threatened by the infringement on their long-distance monopoly, hired St. Cliff Robertson to remind you that “for over a hundred years, when you reached out, we were there.”

    MCI’s ad responded, “For over a hundred years, when you reached out, you didn’t have a choice.


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