Collaborative, Efficient, and Overwhelmed with Online Services

Five years ago, Toni Ferro and Mark Zachry wrote about the use of publicly available online services (PAOSs) among knowledge workers associated with the technology sector. In their article “Technical Communication Unbound: Knowledge Work, Social Media, and Emergent Communicative Practices” in the December issue of Technical Communication Quarterly, Ferro and Zachry reported that the majority of knowledge workers surveyed used PAOSs for at least part of their workweek. Knowledge workers used them an average of 25% of their week, and a small percentage used them 80-100% of the time.

As a digital media director, I am a knowledge worker associated with the technology sector, so I decided to take a look at my own work processes in 2018. For my job, graduate school, and in my personal life, I use most of the services, tools, and social media platforms that Ferro & Zachry discuss.

Screen Shot 2018-09-26 at 10.45.36 PM

Almost all of the PAOSs I use are well known, but there are a few that are unique to the type of work I do including Zencastr for recording podcasts online. Motion Array is a site with royalty-free music and effects for video editing. Interact is a service that helps me create online quizzes. If you include all of these tools, I am among the group of knowledge workers who use PAOSs 80-100% of the time.

My list of PAOSs does not include all of the applications I use for work. I use a MacBook Pro laptop with apps such as QuickTime to record websites and Preview to edit photos. I also use browsers such as Chrome, Safari, and Firefox with plug-ins for specific uses such as downloading video and full-page screen shots. I have an iPhone with apps such as Voice Memos to record audio tracks. Plus, I use other software and applications that are mostly subscription-based and provided by my employer: Adobe Premier Pro, Adobe Audition, Adobe Acrobat, and Microsoft Office 365 which includes PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. There are also apps for services in the physical world such as Uber and Southwest that I use for work and in my personal life.

In my current position, I produce videos and often need to share large video files. To do that, I use Dropbox and Google Drive. In the past, I used Hightail, which was once called YouSendIt. Every few years, one of the services I use will be sidelined by a new one. I find that it’s best to work with the ones that are most familiar to my clients. Occasionally, I’ll need to learn the features of a PAOS that is new to me such as Vimeo because my client prefers it over the video player I normally use, which is YouTube.

My clients expect me to be up to date on all sorts of PAOSs and new technologies. Often, they rely on me to train them as well. It’s all on-the-job training. If I need to learn a new PAOS or app, I Google it. I also watch video tutorials on another PAOS, Lynda.com, which I just found out is now part of LinkedIn. I enjoy learning the latest apps and services, and many of them help me work collaboratively and efficiently. The downside is that I never feel like an expert at any of them, and at times, it can be overwhelming trying to remember all of the various passwords and platforms. I find that browsers can be helpful by storing login information, and luckily, most services are user-friendly if not user-centered with a not-so-steep learning curve.

As Ferro & Zachry noted, Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich said in the 1990s that the U.S. economy was shifting from manufacturing products to generating ideas and from the production of goods to specialized knowledge. While I feel I have a valuable skillset, my skills are always changing and evolving. I rely on my ability to problem-solve, write, organize, and plan. I also have gone back to school to update my knowledge and learn the latest tools as a graduate student in technical and professional communication.

Posted on September 28, 2018, in Social Media, Technology, Workplace and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Angie, this comprehensive post makes me wish we were doing more tech literacy + workplace narratives in the course! The number of online services you rely on is impressive and it’s clear that you have your purposes for using each individual one. I know some workplaces have their preferences, as you mention re: Vimeo, and I appreciate the details you shared about learning the ins and outs of it. We try to tell our undergrads to do the same, especially since we are on a laptop campus with each machine having the full Office and Adobe suites. I think they do take advantage of Lynda tutorials, but more often than not it isn’t until they experience negotiating multiple projects on the job that their curiosity turns into need.

    • Hi Dr. Pignetti, I learned most of them on the job, but I did take some 2-to-3 day workshops to learn Adobe Premiere Pro. I also tried to learn Adobe After Effects, but it is not that easy, especially if you don’t use it every day. I have learned a bit about Word and PowerPoint in the MSTPC program, but I still don’t know much about Excel! Thanks.

      • We don’t teach much about Excel but it’s the main program students say they end up using and wish they’d known more about!

  2. Angie,

    Thank you for sharing the list of PAOSs that you use in your day-to-day work. I know you do a lot of work with video and visual communication so I wanted to share some PAOSs that I thought might be useful to you.

    1. Pixabay.com offers millions of free quality photos that can be used for commercial use. I use this website when I’m looking for a simple image that can act as a metaphor for an article or blog post. This website is extremely helpful if you lack images for any type of project.

    2. Flaticon.com / thenounproject.com – These two websites offer free vector icons for everything – great for when you need to create your own images,

    3. Typeform.com – I saw that you put SurveyMonkey on your list. I’ve been using Typeform recently and I’ve been extremely happy with it. I find that Typeform has an extremely clean UI for making surveys. SurveyMonkey may also have a nice UI, though (I haven’t used it myself yet).

    • Thanks Jeffrey. I’ve seen Pixabay, but not Flaticon or Typeform. I’ll have to check them out. After I made my list, I realized I could also add some other apps such as SpotHero and Google Maps. It’s never ending!

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