Back at ya, Gardner

I keep finding gems that ought to be more widely appreciated, and I tuck them away in various Web pages, sometimes sending them on to others who will appreciate them. I resolve to put more of them into the blog, which I’m coming to think of as my very own Commonplace Book.

Today, a curious but eminently typical wandering amongst links took me to this wonderful bit of clarity from Gardner Campbell, balm to those wondering why they don’t Get It, and what to do about it:

…it’s very easy to grow babies in this business. On some level, I want a bit of that “I’m on my own” feeling among the faculty I serve because it helps them take constructive ownership of their use of the tools. In some respects, even a simple hammer in the hands of a single user becomes an occasion for support problems that (here’s the point) anyone who picks up a hammer more than once learns to accept. Doesn’t mean there’s no support, but it does mean that there are no guarantees, and that an acceptable level of risk and an appropriate level of personal resourcefulness needs to be part of any strategic deployment of any tool.

Again, in some respects: “small pieces loosely joined” reveals the responsibility that’s inherent in any kind of significant agency. That doesn’t mean no end-user support. It does mean that this tool we call a “computer” is useful in direct proportion to the amount of learning and risk we’re willing to accept.

How did I get here? The passage is hidden away in a comment on one of Brian Lamb’s postings from September 2005, linked in musings from the fog, which appeared yesterday (“…depending on third-party apps, even well-established ones like Technorati can cause its own form of pain…”). Gardner may not even remember that he wrote it, and Brian may not have been as cheered by it then as I am today.