Last November, Steve Buttry, from the American Press Institute put out a call to his colleagues for advice on, as he put it, how to help an old stegasaurus upgrade his online skills. Steve, I hasten to add, wasn't the old dinosaur in question, rather the request had arisen from one of his students. I reread what I had provided Steve and I think it's some pretty fair advice for any journalist who's looking to upgrade their skills, so I'm reprinting them here. But I urge you to visit Steve's original post and take in some of the really smart suggestions that came from journalists and instructors across North America.Here's what I wrote:
"Since I'm in the midst of re-vamping our own WebU's 30-course curriculum, this question comes at a good time. Unclear from the note whether this old stegosaur is looking for formal training or self-led learning.
If it's the latter, I have some simple suggestions for any journalist wondering how to get up to speed on these issues:
- Learn how to use your favourite MP3 player and free software like iTunes to catch podcasts. Start with IT Conversations - spend time with the "Most Highly Rated" list, picking and choosing topics and speakers that seem interesting. Then begin picking shows weekly. They feature some of the brightest minds in the web/digital tech field and giving them an hour or three a week of your time (while you're commuting, running, raking leaves etc) is like a free University extension course.
- Ditto Twitter. Short sharp messages you can broadcast to whoever signs up for them. Tool or toy? No snap judgements - study it, figure out what it's doing for all those tens of thousands of loyal users.
- Get yourself an RSS reader (Google Reader, Bloglines, various plug-ins in Firefox, Safari itself ) and start getting serious and organized about reading writers whose ideas speak to you. Find one you like and then spider out from there, tracking the peopel they read and refer to. Organize it in a reader and pay yourself with at least 15 mins of quiet reading time daily. Gather it all, but be choosy about what you dive into. Don't know RSS? Wikipedia is almost always a good "explain it for me" tool.
- Get a smart phone with a cheap data plan (that rules all us Canadian out) and make it a point to use SMS, to text your spouse quick bursts of info, instead of saving it up for a call. Figure out the real uses of the tech. Take pics and shoot them off to photo sharing sites or back to your paper. Use Google Gears to download your blog reading onto your phone.
- In short - if you want to understand the internets, jump right in and start using them."
Any thoughts about what might be your advice?
(Photo from Mykl Roventine's Flickr photostream, Creative Commons attribution licence)