Dealing with my own Technolust — a New Year’s Resolution

It’s not an iPad, but I’m actually pretty impressed with my Kindle and even some of its social features.

One of my surprise gifts this Christmas was a package from Amazon, sent by one of our business partners in New York, containing a 6-inch 3G Kindle.

I’d not thought much about the devices before. After all, I have an iPad, and I have the software installed on the it, and have even ordered a few books. But, although I use the Apple device primarily for reading, it’s usually news or news feeds (Pulse & FlipBoard) — professional reading.

What instantly excited me about this Kindle was the fact that I am re-reading the last Harry Potter book, and since I do my fun reading at night, just before I fall asleep, I have found it exceedingly frustrating to handle a 750 page book in bed. Now I can read and it weighs almost nothing.

So the next morning I set out to buy my first Kindle book for my new Kindle reader and became frustrated again at what seemed like such a poorly designed web site, that I simply could not find the Kindle download for The Deathly Hallows.  Finally Googling the problem revealed that J.K. Rowling, the books’ celebrated author, has refused to allow any of the Potter works to be digitally published. What?

My first reaction was to call this the worse kind of techno-snobbery, an apparent belief that these wonderful stories can only be told from a book — a really big book — never mind that the magic of well told stories far preceded even the earliest books. To be fair, after more reading, I discovered that Rowling’s refusal has more to do with a fear of piracy than what seemed like a narrow-minded wish to preserve the romance of books — even though, her books are apparently being digitally scanned and made available as eBooks within hours of their formal publishing and even sometimes available through Amazon. ((Rothman, David. “Illegal Potter copies were on sale in E via Kindle store: Another example of publishing’s e-mess.” TeleRead. 25 Jan 2009. Web. 4 Jan 2011. <>.))

But that initial impulse lead me to think hard about my own techno-lust and -snobbery. I also rewarded myself, this holiday season, with a Macbook Air, ostensibly because the laptop I’ve been using is simply too heavy to carry around, as much as I sometimes have to carry a laptop around — not good for my posture. But like my iPad, it is a technology I could probably do without. I bought them because I happened to have to money at the time, and because both are such tantalizingly cool technologies. I confess — and I forgive myself.

My struggle now is to continue to work on preventing my propensity for cool tools (toys) from coloring my promotion of education practices and facilities that are more relevant to today’s children, today’s prevailing information environment, and the unpredictable future for which we are preparing our children.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been dealing with this struggle almost daily, as I have decided to switch from Prezi back to Keynote for my presentations. Have you seen the animations that you can so easily accomplish with Apple’s Keynote ’09? It’s dazzling — and it is hard work to keep that dazzle from coming between my message and the audience I hope to influence with it..

..and it is my continuing New Year’s resolution. There continues to be much in what I do and what we do as teachers, librarians, administrators, and even as parents that gets in the way of our need to prepare our children for their future, and we do it in the name of education and even in our efforts to “integrate technology.”  It’s in our expectations, our terminologies and even in how we use our seductive technologies.

So I resolve to make only the most efficiently productive use of my information and communication technologies

— at least 80% of the time 😉


9 thoughts on “Dealing with my own Technolust — a New Year’s Resolution”

  1. Are you sure I am not really you?? Thank you for a great post and a timely reminder about how seductive all the techno toys can be. I am constantly reminding myself of the difference between “need” and “want” and am sorry to say, “want’ often wins. I am adopting your resolution … including the 80% part!

  2. Hi David,

    I had a similar epiphany several months ago when I was cleaning out my “discarded” tech box. Two Palms, a Sony Clie (a what?), an old MacBook, countless cell phones, a printer that no longer works…each of which I simply HAD to have when I purchased them.

    I fully expect to always have several devices and I buy them with the knowledge that they will be obsolete sooner than I want them to be. However, I plan to try to look at technology with the same lens that makes me drive an older car or use my chipped china – if it’s still a high quality product that does what I need it to do, I need to think twice before replacing it.

  3. Hi David – I believe too you have hit on one of the contributors to tech being not used effectively in education … too often the cool factor is the over-riding piece that ruins the pedagogy and makes it fluff. That and jumping from one tech tool to the next just to try it out. On the other-hand, there does need to be some pushing the envelope occasionally to learn what is possible. I mean how many technologies come out and someone makes that claim that it has no value in education … until someone finds a way that it does? We need to focus on fidelity of use … but we need to push boundaries too – but not just to push boundaries, and not just because it is cool.

    1. Brian, thanks for commenting. I think that you make an excellent point about balance. The cool factor, or simply doing it because it’s technology and therefore “21 century” is detrimental to good education. At the same time, creative and resourceful teachers, with freedom to experiment and permission to make mistakes, can find and invent powerful learning experiences for their learners.

      If I’m using it because it’s tech or because it’s a cool and impressive animation, then I’m probably distracting my audience from my own purpose. But if I’m working that animation to more effectively and clearly expressing that idea and accomplishing that purpose — then I’m having a good day!

      Thanks again!

  4. One of the things I have struggled with is the dazzle of the presentations. I have taught my students how to use powerpoint and we present in class their information, but I have come to the conclusion that students can get too much dazzle in their presentations and not enough content, so I have cut out the bells and whistles until we have completed presenting the information. When they have finished sharing their information they can go back and wow each other with the extras. Am I desensitized by the flashyness of some of these programs? It is hard to get information out to the class when they are all oohing and ahhing over the flying words and pictures. It is pretty cool though… and fun.

  5. I do understand the techno-lust. However, I have tripled my reading in the year of my Kindle. I too hated wrestling with a large book in bed. The Kindle is so easy to see and manage. (I do have old eyes.) I have yet to have any difficulty downloading a title. (Had not tried a Harry Potter) On a two week trip out West, my husband and I were able to download, in the bus, newspapers, magazines and books dealing with what we had just seen. It was wonderful.

  6. Hi David.

    I am a school, library media specialist who frequently refers students to your 2000 creation, Citation Machine.

    Through my recent uses of it I’ve come to see there could be a few additions to the nonprint selections you’ve provided. If you could, I’d love to discuss this with you via email.

    Erikka Adams

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