As usual, I wandered around my house and yard, looking for inspiration and a good analogy I could use to explain my opinion about the importance of using a variety of communication tools to reach different audiences with different goals. While in the yard, I decided to cut some dry Hydrangea macrophylla blossoms. As I scanned my variety of tools looking for my pruners - I particularly like pruners - a light bulb went on.
In your garden shed, you store a variety of tools for doing different work in your garden - a trowel, a spade, a fork, a tiller, a pruner, a lopper. Different tools for achieving different goals. You, yourself, may have only a few tools, but you really use them. You may have old favorites you always reach for such as your super-sharp spade with the well-worn handle. It never fails you - the blade stays sharp, the handle is solid. Your neighbor, on the other hand, may have a shed full of tools - some old, some brand new, and some trendy tools like the ones you see on late night t.v. that, in your opinion, are a waste of money. Then one day you borrow one of those trendy tools from your neighbor, and you think "This is pretty great" - and lo and behold, you add one to your shed.
Communication today is like your garden shed: no single tool does everything and you have different tools for different purposes. Some of us have a few, some of us have a regular collection. Communication tools like snail mail, blogs, websites, Facebook, email, and Twitter reach specific audiences, and applications like Google, Druple, Wiggio, Flickr and Delicious offer ways to collaborate and share information. How do you choose? Well, it isn't all about cost in the form of dollars, but also cost how it relates to time, time, ease of use, access, and communication speed. Convenience and popularity of the tool are also important to consider. Our discussion this week: Listserv - 1. Facebook - 0. Other options: maybe. I'll keep trying out new tools.
In summary, no single communication tool is the answer - we need to use a variety - because there is no single tool that fits everyone's communication lifestyle. How we communicate is changing daily. The day will come - I can almost guarantee it - when we look back on email, and say "remember how we used email all the time?" These tools revolutionize our communication choices for better or for worse. I know we don't need to use every communication tool out there, but I like to "borrow" one sometimes and give it a whirl. I may just decide to add it to my garden shed.