Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tool or Toy?

Tool or Toy?

I can remember one summer afternoon as a kid, I got together with some friends, and for some reason, we got this idea in our heads to dig a foxhole. So, we grabbed some shovels, found a spot in our backyard, and started digging. I’m sure we spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening throwing dirt out of our growing foxhole, then playing “battle” in it.

When I came back in the house that night, I was a mess. While I was taking my bath, I was telling my mom all about how much fun we had digging and playing in the dirt.

My mom just didn’t get it. She couldn’t understand why she couldn’t pay me enough money to dig up potatoes in the garden, but I’d spend a full day of my valuable summer vacation digging for fun.

Sheesh. Moms.

But as I look back on that, I think of the shovel. Was it a tool, a device created to get work done, or was it a toy, designed to bring a good time? What IS the difference between work and play?


Well, basically, “work” is when you do something that you have to. “Play” is when you do something you don’t have to. I “work” on the ‘net all day. When I come home, I often get back on the ‘net and “play”.

And where does technology fit into that? For my mom, the shovel was a tool. She didn’t have time to play with it, so it only got used as a tool. For me, I couldn’t stand working, but I loved playing, so it only got used as a toy. The same is true of technology.

For a long time, my wife was completely disinterested in the computer. I was fascinated by it. For her, it was a way to get some things done. For me, it was something to play with. As a result, I learned how to use it very quickly. Also, as a result, she was constantly asking me how to do things on the computer. She only asked when she needed to get something done, and she didn’t want me to show her any other cool things you could do with it. For my wife, it was a tool, and she had no interest in it beyond that.

But I learned how to find bulletin boards, and make pictures, and websites, and find programs, and customize my desktop, and play games, and… you get the picture. Today, for example, I’m so hooked in with my tech, that I carry my cell phone/pda/mp3 player/game set around my neck on a noose. Well, actually it’s a lanyard, but some days I wonder…

Bit by bit, as my wife’s interest grew, and as her need for the tool grew, she became more and more connected to the computer. Even to the point where she’s set up a wireless network on her own, and even set up video chat with my parents.

OK, so what does all this rambling mean?

You might look at your computer and say, “This is a tool to help me make money.” And you’d be right. That’s what it’s there for. But that’s not all that it can do. If you let yourself play with it a bit, you’ll be surprised what you can learn. And one of my core beliefs is: The more you know, the more you can earn.

Your business is an Internet Business. That means that in addition to knowing your business (your products, your customers, etc) you must also know the internet, and the technology that carries your message.

So, take your shovel out in the back yard and dig a hole!

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