I love the serendipity of Twitter. This week two unconnected people I follow posted links to articles containing definitions of what it means to be digital, or have a digital mindset. One from the museum sector and one from a renowned web development consultant. They sparked together with some things I’ve been mulling over for a while to form the idea for this post…
Has what it means to be a digitalist changed in the 5 (and a bit) years since I started writing this blog?
Let’s start with the original definition of a digitalist, the one that gave this blog its name, taken from a blog post by Martin Weller:
“Those who are comfortable using a range of digital media and are open to the changes that digitisation brings to society.”
That’s pretty broad. The key thing for me is being open to the changes that digitisation (or the increasing move towards digital) brings to the way we work, and to society and life in general. This is picked up by Gerry McGovern in his article on the difference between digital and physical:
“When we say ‘digital’ we mean flexible, adaptive and open to continuous change.”
To openness then, we’re adding flexibility and are perhaps moving away from tools (or media) and towards the way a digitalist thinks. It’s not just about what tools you use, but the mindset you have and approaches you take. Which leads me to the other post I read this week. In it, Jasper Visser collates feedback on what it means to have a digital mindset from participants at a workshop he was running for the Danish Museum Association:
“A colleague with a digital mindset shares ideas, uses the right tools for the right challenges, is present on social networks, asks and answers questions, etc. etc. For most participants, a digital mindset had little to do with digital tools and much more with a 21st century way of working: open, collaborative, lean, proactive…”
This encapsulates my motives behind the social media and digital training programmes I ran while working at the universities of Warwick and Oxford. I wasn’t trying to get my colleagues to begin using a wide variety of digital tools, I was trying to get them to:
- think in new ways about the way they work
- evaluate the technologies and tools available
- be open to changes
- find solutions to problems
- collaborate and share
If they found tools to help them do this, then that was a bonus.
I’ve been wondering what the purpose of this blog is. Does it matter that the context has shifted over the years, through the different phases of my career – from libraries, to learning technologies and now websites? While writing this post, it has become clear to me that this is a space for me to share things (mostly digital) that I find interesting, or useful, that I think you will find interesting, or useful, too. Nothing has changed there. That the context is different doesn’t matter much. The digital mindset is relevant in all aspects of our lives.