My colleague, the one who introduces me to new tech gadgets and cool web applications every time I see her, recently called me a TECHIE! She gave me that shout because I wormed my way into Google+ a little earlier than other people in my circle, about two days before she broke in. Her comment reflects an ongoing inside joke. As my brother, who continues to receive SOS calls to fix my computer despite the fact that he lives 3,000 miles away, would attest --- I am not a techie. I just pose as one.
Somehow I have always been toward the front of the pack as a user of technology in my professional life. At the turn of the century, I put my homework assignments online in a primitive, sortable database (that my brother built and that I could not actually edit if I made a typo). The next year I sought out an online grade book that allowed me to give parents password protected access to their children's English grades. I paid for the service myself. The year after that I found Turnitin, and when my individual, free subscription ran out, I convinced my department chair to purchase it for the school. I embraced Inspiration and became the school expert on this software, offering PD workshops to my colleagues. I even suggested that my students hold book club discussions via chat - before social networking had been born.
When a student told me about this cool, new website, I joined MySpace to see what he meant. I opened an account on Facebook when you still had to have a .edu address, and I joined Twitter when there was no one to follow, and no one to follow me. So it was natural that I would join Google+ before I could figure out how to make the tool useful to me personally or professionally. It's the newest "thing," and I'm sure my students will be talking about it - so I need to know what they are talking about.
All of this tinkering, however, doesn't make me a techie. It doesn't make me comfortable with new technologies or even happy about learning them. It just means I'm in the game, refining my skills as I go. My willingness to jump in with both feet, however, has made me a tech "expert" among my university colleagues. I keep telling them I'm a poser. And I keep hoping a real techie will join our department and expose me. Then I can happily follow without the pressure of tech-spertise.