Technology with heart


Thought for the day, from Thich Nhat Hanh’s recent work, The World We Have:

Technology has to be supported by brotherhood, sisterhood, understanding and compassion.

In other words, it’s not necessarily the tools you have, but how you use them.  When you staff virtual reference, are you merely searching for the fastest answer, or are you giving the best possible answer under the circumstances?  How do you handle a question that simply cannot be answered in 5 minutes or less (there are many that can’t)?  If your library has a blog, does it simply have a blog for the sake of having a blog, or does your blog have wit, humor, grace and soul?  If you’re on Facebook, does your Facebook group/page just sit there, or do you update it frequently with content geared toward your fans’ interests?

Your mileage may vary, I suppose.  I would argue, though, that even digital natives are human beings who respond to brotherhood, sisterhood, understanding and compassion.  Technologies should be our tools, not our gods.  Does the shiny tool obstruct our view of the humanity of the person at the other end of it, or do we look beyond that when we practice?

I put it to you, constant reader.  What is the relationship between technology and heart?

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8 Comments

  1. Don said,

    January 8, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Best quote of the new year …. Don

  2. January 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Not hard to be, under the circumstances! But, all the same, I think this will stay in the top spot for quite some time…

  3. Michael said,

    January 10, 2009 at 11:23 am

    This is beautiful!

  4. January 10, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    [...] to Comments I was just reading my google reader and I was reading Leigh Anne Vrabel’s post, Technology with heart, and it got me to wondering about the 2.0 services we have been using for the library where I work. [...]

  5. January 11, 2009 at 7:38 pm

    Thank you, Michael! Just calling it like I see it… :)

  6. Beth said,

    January 14, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    I’ve thought a lot about this post after reading it, and wonder as we talk about sharing technology or wisdom what it means to pass wisdom both up and down. Up to the generation older than we are and down to the generation beneath us who will carry it forward. When Futurist Thomas Frey was in Pittsburgh, he mentioned that brain development in people under 20 is changing. One side of the brain was used more prior to the development of language skills, then the other side of the brain took over. Now in people under 20 both sides of the brain remain active – what does this mean to the development and use of new technologies? What does this mean to our future if we haven’t linked technology with heart?

  7. January 14, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Those are excellent questions, Beth! I wish I knew. I hope we have an opportunity to get together professionally and discuss them. Kelley, Irene Y. and I something up our sleeves that we will probably run past the powers that be at some point…

  8. January 26, 2009 at 11:22 am

    [...] The recent theme around the blogosphere seems to be how to make libraries more human compatible through technology by utilizing social networking tools and other great website enhancers. Some bloggers rail about libraries not respecting digital patrons as much as physical patrons. Others take issue with the archaic proprietary laws and champion open source. Yet others take a hands on approach and try to reconcile technology with its human counterparts. [...]


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