Too much tech? Go for a walk in the woods...

from Flickr user audreyjm529

from Flickr user audreyjm529

Feel like it's too much work to stay up on every gadget and website that's out there to be used in some educational way? You certainly aren't alone, but it doesn't have to be that way. Think of the constant stream of gadgets and tech as an actual stream somewhere in the woods...

On a hike you happen across it and find something worthwhile: a nice view, a cool sip, a good fishing spot. You're there for a bit, then you continue on your journey. There's not a need to explore the whole stream or to stay there for longer than its benefit requires (though some people will and that's OK; we call them explorers and they do valuable work).

Later you bump into a friend at a place you both like to hang out and end up telling her about the stream you found, how to get to it and what it did for you.

Later on, your friend shares your story with some of her friends who in turn tell her about other streams they know about. The next time you run into your friend, she fills you in on what she's learned about other streams and hikes, now that she knows you're someone who's interested in such things. You then get to decide which you will investigate further, which you'll end up returning to again and again, or which streams you'll not bother with.

The next time you feel the need for a different view, a fresh place to drink, or some more fish, you now have options. You don't have to be a stream expert - or an explorer - to find what you need. You only need to have enough initial experiences of your own to have conversations with others who have their own experiences.

It's the same with technology: there's no need for anyone to be an expert in everything - or even to know about all the options. That's nigh impossible; there are just too many streams.

I see this especially with Twitter. People get discouraged because they can't keep up with all the tweets in a particular hashtag. They feel like they're missing too much and it makes them feel lost and overwhelmed. But that's not what the tool is for! Twitter is a stream you happen by, not a to-do list. Like the conversations in the example story above, it's a way to find snapshots of conversations that you can spend more time in if you'd like.

Not everything out there is for everyone, but there's enough for most to to find benefit in the conversation.