Sunday, October 22, 2006

Technology...never fails

This week was 'herfstvakantie' (autumn holidays) at school, and I took my kids swimming. The pool has access gates which you can only enter by scanning with a bracelet (that you get instead of a ticket).

Unfortunately the access gate reported that I had no access (whereas I had already scanned my children, so they were already in). When I asked at the ticketing office (upstairs) they said that I had scanned it twice. That would be surprising as I have used the bracelets for years going for swimming lessons. But I said 'sorry!' and they reloaded the bracelet for me and it worked!

I had forgotten about it, when I exited my children after swimming and I got stuck myself in the swimming pool area because the same thing happened at the gate. This time it said, 'error, please contact staff'. No staff around and staff in the pool did not want to help. So I squeezed myself with another person through the gate. I could have thrown the useless bracelet, but thought I'd be helpful and notify the people at the ticketing office, explaining that there was a problem with this bracelet. But they said that I made a mistake, I had not scanned the bracelet well enough while entering.... And after my response that there is no reason to get angry.... :).

But why do I blog this story while talking about technology in relation to communities of practice? I think what we can learn from this is that as a technologist or online facilitator you should never assume that technology works and that people are making a mistake. So you have to be patient and prepared to find out what doesn't work and why it doesn't work. This can be dull and time-consuming, but is a necessary part of the job. Secondly, if you have support systems ('call staff'), you have to make sure they work ('there is staff around').

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