Embedding digital media: lessons from my father-in-law

My dad-in-law Geoff got a digital camera for his birthday last week. He didn’t ask for it. He probably didn’t want it. He does now.

Having resisted all suggestions to ‘go digital’ for years, I’m pretty sure Geoff would happily have gone on with his 36 frames, 35 millimetres and 24-hour wait for a lucky dip of good shots, bad shots and yet more shots of the car “to finish the film”.

But there he was, unwrapping a Coolpix given to him by his loving son (not me: I gave socks) with a paternal duty to give it a go. As official Family Geek it was down to me to help him learn not just how to use the camera but how to love it.

This all felt rather familiar. Colleagues and I have to do the same thing all the time when selling-in social media to policy officials, training people on CMSs or explaining how to use any other web technology.

This is what worked with Geoff, and it’s a fairly good model for what I often have to do at work:

I am not saying civil servants are like OAPS when it comes to technology – but people of all ages in the office often describe themselves openly as technophobic or at least agnostic about whether new technology is a good thing.

And rightly so. Digital cameras and digital media can make your life better and easier – but not at first. Initially they introduce a problem you didn’t previously have. So our job as web geeks is to create that problem and then solve it, so that any difficulties are quickly outweighed by the benefits. See also Emma’s toolkit posts and Jeremy’s six approaches for ways of engaging people with this stuff.

It’s early days for Geoff, but he just sent me this, so I think we’re getting somewhere:

Dylan at Granny and Grandad's August 2008

Dylan at Granny and Grandpa's, August 2008

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