Smithsonian CTO shares tips on using new media tools

Carmen Iannacone: Agency workers who know the tools should help enable others

Many federal employees are “knowledge workers” and their managers need to be more adept at supporting new ways of learning, exploring new media tools and sharing the knowledge gained, Carmen Iannacone, CTO of the Smithsonian Institution, said at the Ignite Smithsonian conference in Washington, D.C. today.

“As a manager I would be happy with 15 percent reduction in workers' productivity, while there is experimentation, if they find the tool that brings in a 50 percent increase in productivity,” Iannacone said at the media innovation event. The conference featured 20 speakers for five minutes each in a format piloted by O’Reilly Media. The topics ranged from new media applications and education technologies to museums of the future and global case studies.

In previous decades, formal group learning was the standard for job training for knowledge workers, while now the model is “opportunistic, nomadic learning” as the employees strive to constantly identify and master the best tools and data they need to perform their jobs, Iannacone said.


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Unfortunately, management typically is “either too rigid or it is silent” in helping knowledge workers make the most of available technologies, he added.

When Iannacone asked several managers in government agencies whether or not they are blogging, micro-blogging and actively using social media tools, their responses indicated modest interest, he added.

“How can we do better?” he asked. “It is incumbent upon us who know and use the tools to enable others.”

Iannacone gave the following tips for knowledge workers and their managers to help strengthen their grasp of new technologies to more effectively perform their jobs:

  • “Assess your media diet” to determine if you are getting sufficient volume, diversity and opposing views in your sources of information.
  • Reflect on the digital tools you are using, and if possible offer feedback to the vendors so they can make improvements or do customization.
  • Allow time in your schedule for experimentation with new technologies and media applications and tools.
  • Cultivate local peers and people in your environment who are also knowledge workers interested in expanding their capabilities.
  • Promote evolution in applying tools to problem-solving.
  • Share what you have learned with friends and peers.
  • Iterate, by continuing to assess, reflect on tools, experiment, develop peer relationships and share problem-solving tools on a regular basis.



About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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