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A man’s quest to expand his digital competence.

Are you a user or a program? Am I a duck?

As I printed the first week’s deliverables list to review (non-digital move on my behalf), I forced myself to step away from my preconceptions. I juxtaposed my past, present, and future against ongoing digitization, digitalization, and the never-ending digital transformation. Was this indeed the class for me?

Walking back to the Beacon Street parking garage, I laughed as Hans Christen Anderson’s tale The Ugly Duckling and Disney’s Tron flashed in my mind. Why? Well, let us start with the Danish Fairytale. The tale centers on a young duckling that struggles to find his/her place and fit in with his/her supposed waterfowl brethren on all counts. After trials and tribulations, the tale ends with the ugly duckling realizing that he or she is, in fact, a Cygnet – a baby Swan. My academic and professional background to date has been quite regimented, STEM-focused, at times cloistered, and quite linear. I attended a small maritime quasi-military academy for undergrad.

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I studied Marine Engineering and naval science – the antithesis of a liberal arts education. After college, I began two different and separate careers: a Navy Reserve Officer and the other as a sea-going marine engineering officer in the offshore oil industry. To this point, I felt, acted, and associated with ‘the ducks.’ Life had stayed logical and linear. After several years working in oil and gas / the Navy, I found myself inside the Beacon Street parking lot, contemplating my expectations for this class. After nearly two years outside my marine engineering ‘nest,’ the decision was clear – this was a class I needed to take. You see, I’ve grown to relish my academic experiences in Boston College’s tightknit MBA cohort, not for the course contents or, at times, the caliber of instruction but for my classmates’ interactions. While I value my past experiences and my professional methodologies, I honestly felt that this course would be a great crucible to continue that brand of exposure and academic rigor. I do not want to leave a full-time MBA program without snagging every chance to ask the hard questions about a realm I am somewhat blind to. I am ready to dive into each item listed on the syllabus and eager to engage with my classmates on how it will affect our lives, careers, and the world we live in.

How does a 1980’s Disney Sci-Fi movie play in? Like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other things ‘digital’, it maintains a cult-like following and some digital-esq attributes. In short, a tech worker gets beamed into a mainframe computer and assumes the role of protagonist fighting for the world and its ‘users’ (humans) and against the antagonist ‘programs.’ Thinking about taking a class with graded Twitter and other abstract attributes – at first glance – made me feel like I just got beamed into a computer. However, the more I reflected, the more it became clear to me. I cannot continue to deny the power of digital transformation as it applies to all aspects of my life. To paraphrase one of the lines from the movie – I chuckled and thought, do I want to be an informed “user” or remain a somewhat myopic “program”?

I’m looking forward to seeing student presentations, expanding my digital footprint comfort, and digital transformation awareness. I don’t want to leave BC programmed as a somewhat social tech Luddite (duckling) or a consultant well behind the digital curve. Rather, I hope to continue to expand my knowledge and experiences as I learn that I may be more of the ‘Cygnet’ than I originally thought. I hope to gain a much more applicable understanding of what-is-what in the digital commons and the means to frame my thoughts adroitly going forward.

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One comment

  1. williammooremba · ·

    Very interesting blog post! I particularity related to seeing the BC MBA program as a step outside my personal ‘nest’ when I started. One thing I noticed was through both of your examples I thought you framed technical digital knowledge as a sort of binary have or have not. I have found the process happens for me in smaller increments over time. I have found personal struggle when I try and demand too much from myself in too short a time frame. That is not to say you will run into this, just sharing my experience. Also, if you enjoy Tron, I highly recommend the TV show ReBoot. One of the first CGI television series which depicts a fictionalized version of the inner workings of a computer.

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