Saturday, September 19, 2009

Let's Get Personal. How Do You Use It?


Are You Computer and Internet Literate?

To speed your success, twice a day form a clear mental picture for two minutes of the one thing you want; and tell yourself it's already yours. Imagine it is.


Know what I just realized? The Internet has changed people, where before it was the other way around. Most people are unaware that computer literacy comes in degrees of understanding.

Not because you can booth up, use MS Word, PowerPoint or Excel means that you are computer literate. Today a computer can be a useless machine without an Internet connection. My family is a perfect example of the stages of computer and Internet literacy.

I offer my 80 year old Mum as a statistic. Her curiosity about the computer finally bubbled over and she asked to use my laptop for a bit. Of course I obliged, turned it on and left her to explore, told her to do whatever she wanted.

Forty five minutes later I saw her intently staring at the screen. A little concerned, I peered at the screen myself. You would not imagine what had her so engrossed?

Pictures. On the screen, a strikingly beautiful picture of a white waterfall gushing over a lush green background. Excitedly she blurted out “there are so many beautiful flowers, sceneries”.

My thought was “wow, imagine spending so much time looking at those pictures, I remembered the pictures I spent my time looking at; phew!! Never flowers”. I was witnessing the first stage of computer literacy.

My brother is the next example of a more advance stage of computer/internet literacy. He’s a school counselor with the Ministry of Education, ex school teacher, his internet literacy skills is, as he says, “Based on choice”.

He accesses the internet, reads the local daily news, research topics of interest and that’s it. He refuses to respond to email messages, (has an address but rarely checks) swears that he will never get on Facebook although mysteriously he has a profile there that I’m almost sure he did not post. He is at a stage where he can certainly argue that he is Internet literate.

I hope you are getting, from what I’m relating, that computer and Internet literacy…(for want of a better term internet literacy; meaning knowledge of and maneuverability on the Internet) are two totally different kettles of fish.

My sister, a career high school teacher still doing it, prides herself on her ability to transform any doting weak student into a rising academic star. She is on a completely different stage of computer literacy and at another level of Internet literacy.

She owns a PC and a laptop and has been using the computer for quite a number of years. A few weeks ago she called me with frustration evident in her tone. She asked “How do I cut and paste on this thing”?

Now this stage of computer literacy is what many people experience. She uses the internet on a daily basis, emails, Facebook, Yahoo IM and Skype. She did tell me that she had trouble getting to my blog so I sent her the link. She lost some points on maneuverability with me.



Now I left the best for last. As many of you may know I’m a entrepreneur, one who for a long time held down various marketing and sales positions. At one point in my life I worked 7 days a week for over 13 years on as a commissioned sales representative. I loved it, at the time. I always lived by the credo that my destiny must always be in my hands. That’s another story for another time.

I'm one of the people I wrote about in my last post. Ones who loved the job but could not wait to leave it behind. One day I did, I jumped off the cliff with a firm handshake, swearing never to look back.

I never did, not in a way that I longed to be back, I'll never forget it because I acquired a lot of very useful skills and had some fun memories of those times. That was eight years ago and since then I have relied on my experience and resourcefulness to maintain a decent standard of living.

My experience on the Internet dates back quite a few years. I used the Internet to generate leads for big ticket items, automobiles, houses. It was only one way to make contact with prospects to offer them our products. In fact I have not stopped doing that.

Although I have made some money directly online it never was anything significant. A couple of years ago, after I returned to Trinidad I began to consume information on Internet Marketing. I didn’t know it at the time but that’s when I became a part of the social media network.

Initially, I had a Facebook account with 4 friends. I remember that Facebook kept reminding me that I have to get over 20 friends before I would get on their search engines. In 2008 I started paying attention to my Facebook account. And at the beginning of this year I began to focus on Twitter.

Things have changed dramatically in the last 12 months. I have been more active online building a presence, meeting lots of new people all over the world and becoming quite attached to some.

I have met quite a few great people. Least great online because I never met them face to face. I now have established Caribbean related groups in Linkedin Caribbean Basin Intelligence, Plaxo Caribbean Basin Intelligence and Facebook Guerilla Marketing. I revved up my connections so that now, over the three networks, I have about 5000 global connections.



With so many, I know I may never communicate with a lot of them again but I do know that if I had a question to ask about a country, if I wanted a unique recipe from another country or even if I wanted to know something about the region, the people or anything else, I have someone I could ask; at my finger tips. Ok, so why am I telling you all this?

Well what I’m getting at is why it is important that you pay attention and learn everything you can about social media. The people who understand social media today are the thought leaders of tomorrow. Social media has enormous potential for education, addressing social issues, causes, international issues, global business and e-commerce.

On the social media field you can decide to be a spectator or a player. Your choice.

Enough for today. The next post will explain how you can get involved in this revolution.