Several days ago I posted 3 Steps To Getting Published – An InfoGraphic. In truth I was a bit tired of writing and fiddling with graphics is one way I relax. I’d also seen a lot of infographics and wondered how difficult it would be to create one.
Turns out it isn’t that difficult if you’ve got some graphics savvy and know what you want to say. That one I posted, my first, took about two hours. I kept the information I wanted to convey really simple.
The first version probably took almost an hour-and-a-half and I didn’t like it. But by that time I’d figured out a whole lot more about what worked. The second version, which I published, was easy and almost quick.
Over on the 5 Buck Forum someone commented that I and another forum member seem to adapt to new tech in a hurry.
He probably hasn’t heard me tell folks I got into computers because they’d check my spelling – literally true.
The 3 secrets
The recognition that none of us were born knowing how to use computers or their $#%^%* software (or cars or bicycles or cell phones or washing machines or spoons, forks and knives for that matter) is the first secret to learning tech. Just because the 7-year-old next door can do it easily doesn’t mean you should be able to. We’ve all had to learn whatever it is we know about these machines, and we can always learn more.
As I think about how well I use tech, and I’d rate me as a pretty competent end-user, I remember how awful it was to learn how to use my first computer, and it was horrid. But I’d bought the darn thing and was determined.
Being determined to learn it, whatever it is, is the second secret. I got involved with simple graphics, which is all I know, because I wanted images on web pages. Someone in an office I worked in knew PhotoShop and showed me the basics which have stood me in good stead ever since. Asking for help is part of determination it seems.
But my real hero was a young man named Randy who was also part of the very early Match.com staff. I was learning the Mac on the fly and he knew it well. I’d bugged him with question after question until one day in utter frustration he said, “Anne! Click some buttons! You won’t break it and you’ll probably learn something. Which is the third secret.
Do you need to be able to make infographics to be a successful freelance writer? No, not really. You probably don’t need to know how to use a graphics program or a digital camera or anything other than your word processing and email programs.
On the other hand, learning these things can give you more options as a writer. I’ve been paid for digital photos and understanding a bit of graphics is just plain fun.
Learning new software is time consuming. Fortunately if you decide you want to expand your tech skills you can, online, in the classroom, with a book or even a google search.
Several hours later, or as we use to say, time passes… I just spend a good twenty minutes restarting my computer a couple of times and fiddling with settings because I couldn’t get any sound. It turned out I had accidentally turned off my speakers… so Step 0 is make sure it’s turned on/plugged in!
What sort of tech would you like to learn?
Kate teaching some of the little Afghan girls how to use computers on an OLPC.
Yes, this is significant. That a woman can show up to Eastern Afghanistan and teach girls how to use computers is no small achievement. It took a lot of work from some amazing people (thanks Amy and Dave) so that this could happen.
There aren’t enough desks or chairs, so a piece of plywood is laid down to have a clean-ish place to work.
Which reminded me of John Soares post: The Girl Effect: Why Educating Girls Is Important