Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So you want me to spoon feed you?

Today, in the midst of a conversation with a colleague who shall remain nameless, I had a realization. We were discussing a topic we had talked about a few days ago. In that previous conversation, I'd indicated that this colleague could learn a lot more about what I was doing by reading the publications I'd co-authored on the topic and by reviewing the essays on my Webpage. When I asked him today if he'd read those papers, he said he hadn't. He then wanted the URL to my website, so I asked him if he'd bookmarked it. "Yes, " he said, "but I have so many bookmarks I can't find anything." Apparently, going to read about my latest research isn't a continuing high priority. I typed in the URL for him, and even showed him the precise locations of the content I'd wanted him to review.

Years ago, I became excited about the enormous potential for information sharing represented by the Internet and the World-Wide-Web. Because of that excitement, I've taken some considerable pains to put out as much information about my work and my opinions about various topics on the Web. Maintaining my websites is not a trivial task, but I felt that providing my colleagues with easy access to my work was distinctly worthwhile.

Instead, it seems, that only a few people ever bother to take advantage of the by-now considerable amount of information that resides on my website. "Oh, I can't possibly keep up with all the stuff you put out there." is a common refrain. "Yeah, I went there about 6 months ago but haven't been back." is another. "I can't find anything there!" is another complaint. My experience today has been repeated many times in the last several years with others - it's not just the one person. Oh, no.

At times, and today was one of those times, I get frustrated with the apparent lack of interest in the content I've worked hard (to say nothing of time the time spent) to make available. It seems that making it easier to access has encouraged a kind of laziness, rather than stimulating the process of searching for information. There's a host of Web tools for assisting in that search, but I find that many people seem to want it handed to them on a silver platter. "Oh, can't you just email me the PDF?" So you want me to spoon feed you? Why am I going to the trouble to make things available on my Website, when so few seem willing to search it for content that's of potential interest to them?

Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow, but this is a continuing aggravation ...