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UPCOMING
Predict and Prepare sponsored by Workday 12/16

PAST BUT AVAILABLE FOR REPLAY
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #171, 2/15
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #160, 8/14
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #145, 1/14
Workday Predict and Prepare Webinar, 12/10/2013
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #134, 8/13
CXOTalk: Naomi Bloom, Nenshad Bardoliwalla, and Michael Krigsman, 3/15/2013
Drive Thru HR, 12/17/12
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #110, 8/12
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Business Value," 5/3/12 Audio/Whitepaper
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/7/11
HR Happy Hour - Episode 118 - 'Work and the Future of Work', 9/23/11
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #87, 9/11
Keynote, Connections Ultimate Partner Forum, 3/9-12/11
"Convergence in Bloom" Webcast and accompanying white paper, sponsored by ADP, 9/21/10
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #63, 9/10
Keynote for Workforce Management's first ever virtual HR technology conference, 6/8/10
Knowledge Infusion Webinar, 6/3/10
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Predict and Prepare," 12/8/09
Webinar Sponsored by Workday: "Preparing to Lead the Recovery," 11/19/09 Audio/Powerpoint
"Enterprise unplugged: Riffing on failure and performance," a Michael Krigsman podcast 11/9/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #39, 10/09
Workday SOR Webinar, 8/25/09
The Bill Kutik Radio Show® #15, 10/08

PAST BUT NO REPLAY AVAILABLE
Keynote, HR Tech Europe, Amsterdam, 10/25-26/12
Master Panel, HR Technology, Chicago, 10/9/012
Keynote, Workforce Magazine HR Tech Week, 6/6/12
Webcast Sponsored by Workday: "Building a Solid Business Case for HR Technology Change," 5/31/12
Keynote, Saba Global Summit, Miami, 3/19-22/12
Workday Rising, Las Vegas, 10/24-27/11
HR Technology, Las Vegas 10/3-5/11
HR Florida, Orlando 8/29-31/11
Boussias Communications HR Effectiveness Forum, Athens, Greece 6/16-17/11
HR Demo Show, Las Vegas 5/24-26/11
Workday Rising, 10/11/10
HRO Summit, 10/22/09
HR Technology, Keynote and Panel, 10/2/09

Adventures of Bloom & Wallace

a work in progress

Reflections Of A Digital Immigrant Gone Semi-Native: An Embarrassment Of Riches

As many of you know, I had left shoulder rotator cuff repair surgery on 12/18/09 and have been mostly offline since then except for backlogged blog posts (extensive, probably boring suggestions for “killer” scenarios) and the odd tweet (sometimes very odd as a result of the pain meds I’ve been taking, as sparingly as possible).  [34-illegal-immigrant-b-724013.gif]With vision blurred by the pain meds and my left hand/arm not available, I’ve nonetheless been trying to keep up with the blogosphere, twitterverse, email, voicemail, and the flood of wonderful holiday letters that we so appreciate getting from friends and family with whom our only contact this past year may be those letters.  Our own holiday letter, increasingly sent as a pdf email attachment with Smugmug links, will likely be repurposed as a Valentine, not unlike the repurposing of so much licensed/on-premise HRM software as SaaS — but I digress.  All the books I had put aside to read during the two weeks of totally down time for which I was prepared (or which I was prepared to allow myself?), including two great ones by fellow EIs Nenshad Bardoliwalla and Paul Greenberg, will also have to wait until my vision is totally clear and I can hold a book comfortably.

The one thing I’ve had plenty of time to do, in addition to feeling sorry for myself, schlepping through painful PT exercises, and watching my collection of every Agatha Christie video/DVD every made, is to think.  And let me tell you that’s a dangerous place to go.  I’ve made so many lists of my thoughts — thoughts for client projects, future blog posts, Ron’s todo list, travel dreams, things we must have for the new boat, more thoughts for client projects, well you get the picture — that I’m now oppressed by all the lists whose line items I’ll never have time to execute.  My clients are going to get some (hopefully) great ideas as soon as I can put them into deliverables or discuss them in upcoming meetings, but that will make hardly a dent in the pile of lists I’ve created over these last three weeks.

One recurring theme across those lists is the added stress of my new life in social tech land.  Having started my professional life when the great social tech policy debate was about who needed a telephone — the prevailing wisdom was that we’d all amok making personal calls if given a phone — it’s fair to say that I’m many generations removed from my very young colleagues who grew up with iPod implants and no fear of turning off their computers.  Yes, those early computers were never turned off except by fully qualified operators who powered them down, step by careful step, while that big red don’t touch me button, the hard stop button, called to me every time I was allowed into the inner sanctum computer room.  Not unlike making myself sick on too many M&Ms, the wonderful world of always on/always communicating/always learning is wearing me down. 

As I’ve been trying to recover from surgery, the endless flow of posts, comments on posts, counter-posts, tweets and more tweets, EI discussion threads, LinkedIn profile updates and group communiques, press releases and emails reminding me of press releases, all the wonderful cards/emails/tweets from caring friends and family, etc. etc. has haunted what should have been a period of complete rest.  But how do you rest when there’s no way to ever read, let alone respond to, this endless flow?  How do you go off the grid when, whether for vacation or recuperation when, the moment your back is turned, you’ve missed four calling vendors, three acquisitions, two heads a-rolling and a partridge in a pear tree, all accompanied by a blizzard of often useful commentary?  Am I the only one who feels overwhelmed?  Are younger brains more able to zoom/key/touch through it all and remain focused on individual projects or tasks?

Rather than be so overwhelmed by this flood that I’m unable to maintain focus and intellectual intensity, it’s time to accept the fact that I’m never going to be a digital native.  I’m never going to be comfortable with unanswered voice or email, with missed tweets that might have contained the secret to great HRM, with blog posts for which I’ll never have time to digest or add valuable comments.  This embarrassment of substantive riches, this outpouring of relevant commentary, this flood of minutiae about what people ate and where, is just too much for my aging brain.  If my much younger colleagues can absorb and really care about all of this, more power to them.  As for me, I’m prepared to accept my status as a digital immigrant who can never go more than semi-native.

And with that acceptance comes my 2010 action plan for managing the flood.  Just as with my favorite candy, M&Ms, too much of a good think can make me sick.  I’ll continue to experiment with devices, software and techniques that may have some bearing on the HRM business so that I can offer relevant guidance on their use or avoidance to my clients, both to end-users and software/services vendors.  I’ll continue to experiment with devices, tools and techniques that may be useful to Bloom & Wallace’s business or to Ron’s and my personal lives.  But I’ve begun setting limits, just as I’ve had to do with M&Ms since I nearly OD’d writing my book in 1993:

1)  I will not be checking Facebook any time soon.  Friends and family will have to be in touch directly, and we’ll do the same, pointing them to our photo albums on Smugmug as appropriate or to our family-only use of Geni.  I hope to write more about my personal life doings/insights between the professional postings on my blog, using careful titles/categories/coming soon tags to help readers find what’s relevant to them.  While I’ll never get used to living my life in the public way that’s the norm for digital natives, this semi-native has come to value the many ways in which social technology helps us broaden our circles and stay connected to them, and I see this blog evolving from professional outlet to personal/professional memoir over the next few years.

2)  I will not follow more than 250 tweeps, including vendors I follow for strictly professional reasons, no matter how interesting/learned/simpatico/personable/relevant/etc. they may be — I just can’t cope with more than that, and I will prune my list with great angst over every cut.  With our walls/shelves now covered with wonderful art/ceramics/carvings/object d’art from around the world, 2010 is the year in which Ron and I will try to “regift” or donate an item for every new acquisition, not because we love the outgoing item less but because the incoming one is more immediately affecting.  And so it must be with the tweeps I follow, the blogs I read regularly, the folks I routinely connect with via LinkedIn, etc.

3)  I will use LinkedIn as the primary vehicle for connecting with professional colleagues/acquaintances who are not now and are never likely to be personal friends but with whom I choose to keep in touch for professional reasons.  While I’m also connected via LinkedIn to many professional colleagues who have also become friends, not to mention tweeps who have become or are likely to become closer peeps, I view LinkedIn more as my extended professional Rolodex (does anyone still have one of those wonderful multi-wheel, business card holding devices?) than as a personal networking resource.

4)  I will continue to use the phone when I want to have a conversation — not just an asynchronous exchange of information or ideas but a real conversation — perhaps moving to VOIP and definitely upgrading my smartphone, because there’s a lot of information in tone/speed/inflection/etc. that’s hard to convey/discern via words on screen or paper.  If you really want to know what I think about something important, let’s talk about it.

Just as more and more organizations are setting up social technology policies, so is Bloom & Wallace.  More on that in another post.

17 comments to Reflections Of A Digital Immigrant Gone Semi-Native: An Embarrassment Of Riches

  • […] I became active in the world of social tech, I wrote about the good and bad of these terrific collaboration, learning, communication, and influencing tools, from my own point […]

  • […] Naomi Bloom made an excellent heartfelt post about a challenge that more and more of us are facing – feeling overloaded from the constant […]

  • Thanks for this Naomi — as always astute. As more of a data analyst type, I’ve always found that my brain which is slightly older than yours can’t do both data analysis AND keep up with tweeting. I just can’t make that brain functioning leap. I even blogged on this dilemma here: http://lexymartin.blogspot.com/2009/11/data-analysis-does-not-breed-good.html I’ve also noticed recently that I drive myself bonkers thinking in chunks when I take breaks from data analysis activities. Thinking in chunks…somehow sounds like throwing up! One thing I do notice is that I have to flexible as to how I keep in touch with my kids/extended family as they evolve into new forms of communication, so I know I will just keep on learning. Like you, I love the phone, or heavens….face to face which gives me the option for a hug, best of all. So, don’t forget that media and that we love to SEE you too!

  • […] Bloom also write an excellent post about her experiences with social media called Reflections Of A Digital Immigrant Gone Semi-Native: An Embarrassment Of Riches where she let us know she is going to set aside Facebook and limit the number twitter followers to […]

  • […] my one-armed reflections of a digital immigrant gone semi-native, the first installment of which is here This post owes a shout-out to Jason Averbook and Ray Wang for launching me on Twitter in early […]

  • […] check on occasion.  I read a great post by fellow blogger Naomi Bloom where she lays out her own personal social technology policy for 2010.  I recommend checking it out because it makes sense that we would each need to do this in order […]

  • Kay Mason

    Naomi – Like you I have been trying to keep up with the various social networks. I do like to keep facebook for family and friends so if a business contact tries to connect with me on facebook I usually send them a linked in invite instead. I do want to keep the two things separate and have found this works for me. I do agree with your logic though and admire you for presenting this in such a constructive way. Lots of food for thought!! I hope the shoulder continues to improve.

  • Good points Naomi! Focusing on the activities that bring us value, and finding methods that match our temperament and time requires some time & effort. Now that sounds like advice I give to my clients(!) Just because something works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for you…

  • Naomi Bloom

    I so appreciate that my own challenges with social technology aren’t mine alone. While some of my colleagues manage to do seventeen things at once, to absorb many information streams concurrently, even the most digital native among us must still make choices about when/when/where/how/to what purpose/with what controls they plug into all that’s available. Glad to contribute to that conversation — and there’s more to come as I continue my journey in socialtechland.

  • Marshall Kirkpatrick

    I must admit I can’t relate – but I enjoyed reading this and am glad I follow you on Twitter so I can some times see stuff like this! Best wishes!

    • Naomi Bloom

      Digital native that you are, thank you for listening to the perspective of those who aren’t. I love ReadWriteWeb even if only some of the coverage is relevant for me/my clients. Looks like social tech is serving both of us very well and with enough overlap of interests to connect us.

  • I very fitting piece for so many of us. I should like to add that your comments resonate at our home as well, as I now find myself telling one or more of of the children to kindly consider using the “old-fashioned” phone to talk with someone, rather than leave posts or emails or someother digital footprint! And what makes matters worse is that we taught them to have have too extensive a vocabulary, as they respond with something about “Luddite” :-)

  • I agree 100%!

    Right now we are at an evolutionary stage in our communications which is giving us this massive overabundance of ways to connect. Over the next few years things are sure to settle down and we’ll fall into routine use of specific communication/connection technologies. Most likely they won’t seem all that special at that point…..just common tools that we use. After all it’s the relationships that are the endpoint not the medium that we use to form and nurture them, right?

    It’s neat to be a part of this r-evolution though, isn’t it? We may not be able to keep up but we’re sure having fun with the overabundance!

  • Debbie Brown

    How fitting you have already heard from 2 of my favorite peeps!- Once again, I agree with your philosophy- the reality is I find myself interacting with like minded people on twitter, family and friends out of town on Facebook, and professional contacts on Linked in- the ideal of limiting the group to limit the volume makes all the sense in the world, as the fear of missing something good may be a bit too much for me as well!

  • Naomi, you are not alone. My Twitter followings are dropping dramatically, by choice, I was missing quality in the midst of the noise. I do like Facebook for friends and family and while I am not unfriending anyone – yet – I am being very particular with who I give access to. I am in my own process of deciding just where I want to head and picking accesses, sites and events to support that. I don’t have the answer yet so am in a bit of a mess so I admire and am inspired by what you wrote here. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Naomi, you’re not the only one feeling overwhelmed by all the social media activities. While it is fun, it can be time consuming and it pulls you in. I have also reached the point where I am starting to filter the blogs I read vs. those I just monitor occasionally. I have selected about 200 tweeps that I watch what they say and the rest remain in another column on tweetdeck. I think it’s necessary to do this and if we don’t, we would be bombarded with irrelevant information all day long. Good luck to you on your blog and with your social technology policy. Maybe that is the real trend for 2010…establishing your own social technology policy.

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