Deep Thought Thursday: Technology: Friend or Foe?

As someone who teaches the benefits of using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and more, I’m fully aware that the Internet is both friend and foe. Some people get it and really love it. Others are convinced that it’s a vast conspiracy against them.

Since I’m posting this on a blog, the results may be skewed, but I’d like to know what you think.

What are the benefits of technology?
What are the disadvantages?
Would you prefer returning to the good old days of pre-Internet?

Image ©Julie Gerleman, In the Shade

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20 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday: Technology: Friend or Foe?”

  1. The most helpful benefit of technology is instant access to a wealth of information. Granted, there is much sifting to be done to ensure its quality. I suppose recognizing the chaff to be shaken away from kernels of wisdom is the biggest difficulty and detriment. These ARE the good ol’ days and there is no going back for me.

  2. The Internet has been a friend to my art business – email newsletter, blogs and online instruction are a great and inexpensive way to get your work in front of a lot of eyeballs.

    However, and a BIG HOWEVER, spending precious time online is addictive – it feeds our egos and curiosity so very well that for the moment, all other activities can’t seem to compete.

    But at what cost? Just like a diet, I must regulate how much time I spend (yes spend.. as in can never get that time back) on the Internet. I believe the best way to do this is to have a plan for my online use and make sure I stick to it.

    Thanks for asking, Alyson… wish I could be more brief, but not my nature 😉

  3. Monday I was in Oregon at a gallery. I mentioned that I am an artist. I don’t fish, I just converse. I am convinced that being open is better than being undercover. The gallery representative invited me to sit down at the pc and bring up my blog.

    There you are. After that, she invited me to follow up with the owner, and I will be sending a packet.

    And to think that when I first met Alyson, I didn’t have a website! No wonder that I would meet gallerists, they would ask if I had a website, and when the answer was no…sound of door closing inserted here.

  4. I think it’s a blessing AND a curse.

    Part I: When I started my work life, I found a job where they paid me to draw. Even though the work was technical, I really enjoyed the craft of it. Within a year, I heard of plans to computerize my job. I was totally dismayed, having no geek qualifications, nor wanting any, and loving getting paid for my “skill.”

    Now, one person can do in a day what it used to take a bay full of illustrators a week to do. Good for businesses, bad for illustrators. But revisions are much easier — good for both of us.

    Part II: Now as a painter, having a website has given me the opportunity to connect with artists and art lovers from all over the world. It’s so much easier to share information, show your portfolio, apply to shows, sell work, see other’s work!

    Web 2.0 is even better; my exposure to other artists, ideas and exhibitions is increasing exponentially and is even more invaluable to me!

    The Downside: the time I spend doing all of the above and maintaining my multiple web presences is time I do NOT spend painting. That’s a pretty big downside!

    But in the end, I think, what it takes away from time spent painting, it more than gives back in opportunities. As always, your mileage may vary.

  5. What are the benefits of technology?
    • I agree with Connie about the wealth of info.
    • The ability to quickly build an audience (A combination of Blogging and Facebook (FB) is great for this)
    • You can easily gain visibility internationally. I have more FB friends in France than Los Angeles and a fan base of over 850 FB nationwide and growing fast.
    • You can target your marketing effort to very specific audiences. If you make sculptures of cats you can easily find cat lovers to market to directly by getting involved with FB cat groups, cat blogs, etc.
    • Easily in staying in touch with a large group of people (fans). Through email newsletters, FB updates, etc.
    • provides rich environments for discussing issues with people who have common interests. Thank you, Alyson for the opportunity to do just that right here.

    Oh, there is so much more.

    What are the disadvantages?
    Blogging, twitter, MySpace, Facebook and such can be a major time suck if you are not good with time management, focused on your primary objective for using the technology, and disciplined.

    Would you prefer returning to the good old days of pre-Internet?
    Not a chance. I love technology

  6. I love the internet and what is has enabled us to do. I’ve had a website since 2003 and I also have a blog, am on twitter, FB and LinkedIn as well as some other online communities. I do know that it can be addictive and it can also be draining to spend long amounts of time in front of the computer. But I really feel that it has helped me to foster a sense of community and has helped to introduce me to local people who I stay connected with online and offline.
    I also feel like my blog has become a creative outlet in and of itself. I wouldn’t call it art, but I always enjoyed writing in school and blogging has helped me to funnel some of that earlier enthusiasm into a fun way to stay connected.

  7. I agree that I love having the wealth of information. I think it is a good thing for the most part, but definately agree about the downfall of it being time consuming.

    I just recently started a blog page and signed up for all the main social media networking sites – Twitter, Facebook, LinkenIn. Apparently for marketing purposes these things are supposed to be great and highly recommended, but I have to admit that I find it overwhelming. It’s almost like having a second job. I have yet to find out if internet marketing is a successful tool to my giclee printing business, but I’m giving it a shot.

  8. I don’t see how it would be possible for me to handle my marketing myself if I wasn’t doing most of it online these days.

    My blog has been a great way for me to get in regular writing time and to have a quickly updateable presence.

    I have Facebook friends in 17 countries now. I can’t imagine how I would have that kind of reach any other way.

    The disadvantage is that the social networking sites, in particular, can be a time suck if you’re not clear on why you’re using them.

    My focus is marketing, so I generally keep my Tweets and a large percentage of my Facebook posts relevant to that. I use Facebook to “tell my story”, so I do post things about me, such as my very first video (having just gotten a Flip HD Ultra), which was nine seconds of my collie. That drew 7 “likes” and four comments within hours.

    I did my first email with Constant Contact last month. Before, I just sent them out via my email package and had no idea what happened. Now I can see the stats and found that 62% of the recipients clicked on the newsletter and that there were only two unsubscribes out of 100 sent. My impression is that that is pretty good for a first time.

    I mailed 58 hard copy versions for people that I didn’t have an email address for and, other than five which were returned, have no idea whether the recipients looked at them or just round-filed them, which made it a waste of paper. So doing the newsletter online is clearly a more efficient use of my time in terms of knowing what happens. Plus, there were a lot of click throughs to links, which isn’t going to happen at all with the hard copy version.

    You could no more pay me to give up the internet than you could get me to go back to film for photography or CDs for music.

    Besides the environmental advantages, I think that we’ve barely begun to understand the connection possibilities of doing things online. This isn’t just a new way to do the same thing. Technology has changed the game.

  9. Julie Gerleman

    Hey! I recognize that painting – thanks for posting it up!

    I’ve been thinking about this ever since I waxed poetic (and on and on) about my new iPhone on your class blog this morning Alyson. I remember first learning about this thing called “Netscape” when I was going through library orientation as a Freshman at ASU (I’m dating myself here). I remember not being able to wrap my mind around the concept of “internet” or how that could connect people. When I finally started to understand it a little, I had no idea how it could be useful to me. But now that I know, I just can’t imagine going back. At this point I consider myself an early adopter of new technology and overall, I’m happier, more productive, more informed, and feel more empowered and more connected to the world at large.

    On the other hand, a hammer is a great tool too, but not everything is a nail. I can see how it’s easy to be seduced into thinking the internet is THE answer to everything and while it can facilitate relationships, it will never replace them. It can make your life easier but it will never live your life for you. It can simplify things but it’s up to you to protect the time you’ve saved and use it wisely.

    I imagine that after humans first discovered fire, we spent an awful lot of time inadvertently burning stuff down and hurting ourselves before we really understood its properties enough to use it intentionally to our benefit. I’ll bet that some people were afraid of it enough to think it was evil – maybe they saw what damage it could do, who knows? I was watching some documentary where they said scientists think the advent of fire actually changed the course of human existence because for the fist time we were relatively safe and had more opportunities to sit, think, tell stories to each other and dream while sitting by a warm fire at night. I think the internet is much the same way. It’s a really young technology and it’s far too early to tell what effect it will have on us but I’m sure it’ll be something amazing.

  10. I can’t imagine life without the Internet and I lived a good deal of mine before I’d ever heard of it. I got on the Internet at work one day,thirteen years ago, signed up for Hotmail, made a friend in France and the next day our IT guy cut it off. Said we didn’t need it! Augh! I had my own computer and the Internet that night and I haven’t looked back since.

    I have a website, a blog, I’m on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace (which I’m not that into.) I send all my invitations through the Internet. I get all my news online. I do all my banking and bills online. I order all my books online. I don’t think I could buy a book anymore without reading the reviews of those who have bought it before me. I stay in touch with friends I would have never stayed in touch with and I make a lot of new ones. I’ve learned A LOT about A LOT and every time a question pops in my head, about anything, I Google up the answer.

    The only disadvantages I can see are my house isn’t quite as clean as it used to be and maybe it’s made it easier for me to be the recluse that I am. I don’t do it all the time, but I’ve even ordered groceries online. (I hate going shopping.)

    Life without the Internet, to me, would be like life without a car and a telephone and without a soul around for hundreds of miles and no shoes. It would be like having no electricity, the well running dry, and having my last donkey croak as he carried me through a barren wasteland to the nearest town Far, Far Away. It would be like finally making it to that town, with my next to last breath, only to find they had no water, or telephones, or cars, or shoes, or donkeys either, and everybody there was dead.

    Other than that, I could probably do without it.

  11. What are the benefits of technology?
    i think there are so many benefits (i agree withe everything listed already) but more than anything i am so grateful for a means to share my ideas and creativity easily and get them out all around the world. without the internet it takes much more effort to put it out there.
    What are the disadvantages?
    can be a time waster
    Would you prefer returning to the good old days of pre-Internet?
    not a chance!

  12. The vote is in! And most likely no surprise to anyone who is reaping the many benefits of this technology.
    As an older artist, it has additional benefits for keeping my art life fully alive when getting here and there is sometimes more than I can easily manage.
    I think that while there are drawbacks in regard to the ‘new’ technologies, there are drawbacks to every way that one can operate, regardless of the technology. I imagine some of those Parisian artists 100 years ago stayed too long at the cafe when they should have been painting!
    It’s really always a matter of discipline and we all are challenged to meet that and do our best.

  13. I would never go back to pre-Internet, although some days it can be a real time-waster, as others have said. I learn something new every day, can Google something if I have a question, can put a link on Twitter for my Etsy shop or my blog, etc. Discipline is the key to using it as a tool instead of letting it become a big black hole of time that you can’t get back.

  14. Access to the Internet has enriched my life substantially. The reasons have been mentioned by many who posted before me, so I won’t repeat them.

    I agree heartily about the huge amounts of time that surfing the Internet and participating in social media can take up if we let them. I suppose “if we let them” is the key phrase in that sentence.

    For artists, the Internet has done much to level the playing field. One can build a reputation and a following outside of the traditional venues now. And although I am not one of them, I see what a boon (via blogs, online shops, etc.) the Internet has been to mothers with small children who can build businesses and profiles online.

  15. I love technology! Having the internet is like having a library right in your home. It has helped me in more ways than one to make my art career what it is today. Would I like to go back pre-internet….NO but, I would like to be more in control of how long I stay on it.

  16. As a library manager I love the ways in which technology helps me to reach out to and help my customers. I live in a very small town and the internet and social networking provides so many opportunities for isolated people. Pre-internet days? No thanks.
    As an artist, aside from being careful of my time, same response really.

  17. Certain aspects are absolutely wonderful–it’s like having the world’s largest library available at all hours of the day or night. Seeing Aaron Copeland’s hand-written notes on his sheet music is something I could only do via internet. However, I also relish the times without internet access–I need time to reflect. Technology is a tool that we can choose to let rule us or use as we need.

  18. Lauren Perkins

    I find it’s great but my focus on my online promotion has also made me fall by the way side of promoting myself locally which is just as important, even MORE important. My mums friend recently asked how I was and mum told her I was painting and now married and told her my married name and it turns out she has been following my paintings and loves my work! She just had no idea she knew me. You can’t beat (or neglect) that. In terms of art sales, the internet is pretty useless to be honest with you. However it’s priceless for emailing off work and being found for promotional purposes. I’ve been in magazines and newsletters that I just wouldn’t have gotten into if I wasn’t online.

  19. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Casey: That’s a great story! Happy to have been a small part of it.

    Wendy: I love this: “I also feel like my blog has become a creative outlet in and of itself.” Too many people take their blogs for granted. You have to be just as creative with your blog as with your art in order for it to be good.

    Lynne: Good point! “I imagine some of those Parisian artists 100 years ago stayed too long at the cafe when they should have been painting!” Or de Kooning in the 1950s in the book we’re reading in our Twitter group. Too much partying.

    Lauren: Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

    And thanks everyone else for your input. Seems like technology (at least to my blog readers) is safe for now.

  20. I would like to add an international perspective to this discussion. I’m based in New Zealand and access to the Internet has opened many doors to me which would have been otherwise inaccessible. I would have never found fractal art or met various fractal artists from around the world via a Internet help forum. I may not have found your book either Alyson if there was no Internet. On the downside, however, broadband is very expensive in this part of the world so there are many people with only dial up access to the Internet which means websites with high graphic content must be able to load quickly otherwise people move on. I am trialling the use of Twitter but have mixed feelings as to how useful it will be as it is still a fairly new phenomenon in this part of the world. I believe that people really need to see art in ‘person’ and that the Internet is just one vehicle for introducing and selling art. I certainly would not go back to pre-Internet days though.

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