By Cynthia Simmons
It’s Friday midday, and I have sooooo many things on my mind.
Top-most, there is a job that I want to apply for, but my skill set has a couple of gaps—software apps that I’m not familiar with.
I’m pretty technically literate, so I think to myself—how difficult could it be to fast and dirty scope out the apps? Can I find out what they do and basically how they do it, and then start to learn some of the commands to use.
I’m on the hunt at my computer.
I’ve been carrying around this target job in my head, asking people questions, and yesterday someone told me that I could download a demo. Yesterday I started my research. I watched a dozen short demos, and today I get a phone call from a sales rep. I ask her questions, but unfortunately she doesn’t work with the exact app that I need.
I go back to the mother-ship website, target the app I’m hunting, looking for white papers, demos, comparison charts. I get to this place called “The Hub.” It lists forty small apps that do small individual functions—plug-ins or subroutines for those of us with longer-term memories.
Interesting. I try to get an overview—hunting, hunting. Is there a master list, a way for me to sort and catalog, to cast my net and then to look at the sizes and colors of the fish I bring in?
I do something simple: select the whole list of images, titles and links, then copy and paste them into a Word doc—to make them slow down.
The images are scalable and dynamic; they fill up whatever space there is. I don’t have room for notes. I can’t get them to stop moving.
So, I grab one and pull it into Excel, but it’s still self-scaling and dynamic. And the link still works. It bounces me back to their website, but this time I get to a white paper, very flashy and beautiful, with a file type of PDF. I like that. PDFs are stable. I download the PDF and that stops me from moving from link to link.
I see there isn’t a lot of text. It’s mostly beautiful pictures.
Now we are getting somewhere. Behind the hype and beautiful images, and the multiple category tags for a single product (to get multiple hits), there is some clarity of what this particular thing actually does.
Now I can slow down and consider, puzzle and put the pieces together. I’ll get the demo a bit later, when I’m ready for it. I needed a context first. Not just what is does, but why it does what it does. Why it may have value.
My hunt isn’t finished, but it’s starting to make sense.
Cynthia Simmons is a publishing and communications professional, with certificates in editing and copyediting.
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