Re: Technophobia/Information Anxiety

Subject: Re: Technophobia/Information Anxiety
From: Wendy Putman <wputman -at- CASTLETON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 12 Dec 1997 13:27:13 -0800

> I'm currently ploughing through Wurman's 'Information Anxiety' book
> but I
> would appreciate any information about other books, articles or decent
> web-sites about this subject. I'm also looking for any personal
> experiences too.
I can give you two perspectives: one as a manager who supervised
technology-anxious staff, and as a technical writer who has gone back to
hands-on work. I've certainly been technophobic at times. Somewhere
around my 38th birthday, I noticed that I no longer had the patience to
learn new software programs. New conceptual skills still seemed
exciting, but the thrill of wading through a jargon-filled manual has
ceased to excite me. As well, the farther away from language and the
closer to database - accounting - programming we go, the more I lose
interest. So when I wanted to move back from 5 years of management to
hands-on technical writing, I was faced with expectations that I would
have certain skills and know certain tools ... only it was framed as
"know certain tools and use them to put related skills to use." I should
add that I'm quite capable, self-confessed computer geek, but I know how
I learn: hands-on experience on real-life work. Sitting me in a
classroom with an instructor playing to the lowest common denominator
doesn't do it for me. Instead, I become frustrated and eventually get
anxious about not learning what I need to know, which then escalates
into "what I'll never be able to learn and I'll fall behind and become

On the other hand, it drove me nuts when I would explain to my
staff what directions the department needed to take, what technology I
proposed to introduce to meet the demands, and offered to train, and
then met with resistance every step of the way. If my group of 12 could
have been called a typical sampling, then anxiety was related more to
age and personality type than it was to culture, gender, or profession
(i.e. editors, graphic designers, and admin assistants). I'd be happy to
explore this more off-line., or

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