23 Things: The end

With thought, hard work, loads of research and not a little grim determination I have reached the end of the 23 Things program, and this is the last task — to comment on it.  Bearing in mind that I am a usability professional, and one of the things we do is critique existing systems, here is my feedback.

Things I liked:

  • I saw people start talking to each other on the blogs who hadn’t necessarily known each other before.  Debates and camaraderie began, and this created inter-office links within the library staff
  • Some people learned lots of new technologies, and felt that whole new worlds had opened up for them
  • It encouraged me to begin this blog (which I have been meaning to do for a long time) and take a certain amount of control of my own web presence.
  • People have seemed to enjoy it — I suspect this is unusual for any technology training program.

Things I would change:

  •  Many people have created blogs they will never go back to, because they are dedicated to 23 Things. Had the blog task been more generic and spread over a number of weeks (create a blog; over the course of the 23 Things, write at least ten posts on things that interest you; embed a picture that is relevant to one of your posts; comment on another 23 Things blog of your choice; embed a video that is related to one of your posts) people may have found the blogging less onerous.  What’s more, the blogs would have been more interesting reading, and would have better facilitated those positive new links.
  • Given the suggestion about the blogs above, a new mechanism to follow people’s progress would have been necessary.  My suggestion would be a web form where the person entered their name, the task, one thing they did like, one thing they didn’t like and an evaluation of usefulness on a 5-point likert scale.  This would have made the reporting more private, and allowed the blogs to be more useful and interesting.  It also would have made it very clear what the expectations were for “completing” a task. Futhermore, it could have been the basis for an interesting research paper about what participants think of the 23 Things, and which tasks were useful.
  • Speaking of privacy, it would have been good if people had been given more information about web-presence and anonymity from the outset of the program–given that many people have never used these technologies before, many of them probably did not realise that if they created a blog with their name on it what they say on it could be attached to their name for a long time, with Google harvesting.
  • The progress chart felt counterproductive to me, given that this is a personal development program, and I wouldn’t have done it.
  • Given that the program is spread out over such a long time, one task per week might have been achievable.  Doing anything more than the bare minimum per task takes a considerable investment of time (whether that is because someone is learning a new technology, or because like me, they want to write a rich blog post about it, or both), and it would have been easier to keep up (and do lots of exploring) at a rate of one task per week.

While this post may seem quite negative, I have actually been quite grateful for the push to begin this blog, and the content to get it off the ground.  While I had already used many of the technologies we investigated in the 23 Things, I was forced to think more critically about them, and I did quite a lot of reading to back up my posts–so I still learned quite a lot.  The only task I really didn’t find useful (and the task I found most difficult to integrate into this blog) was the image generator task; however investigating and thinking about Digg more than made up for it.

So I have two questions remaining: At the end of this programme, we will have a library full of extremely tech-savvy  people — how do we keep this up, and where to from here?


3 Responses to “23 Things: The end”

  1. 1 tony Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Great post Dana. And not only tech savvy, but often with other skills previously unknown or developed through the 23 things program… like the ability to write well and communicate ideas. We need to foster this and make sure it doesn’t wither away.

  2. 2 Gordon Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks Dana,
    your contributions have been well researched, well expressed and thoughtful.

  3. 3 Derek Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    That last question was the right question, Dana, but what is the answer? What next? I have tried to ask this in a few forums, but so far there aren’t many answers on what the 24th thing might be. One good thing might be to provide incentives for people to keep blogging – it seems to have had a lot of good effects of many kinds.

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