Crap Detection: #ISTE11

I’m writing this morning from the Blogger’s Cafe at ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia, PA.  I’m looking forward to three days of learning and thinking and conversation with lots of smart folks from all over doing interesting work to improve teaching and learning with technology.

But I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t remember that this is also a giant trade show.  People here are eager to sell me on plenty of things – their products, or services, or consulting, or that their work is really, really neat.

And that may well be.  The products, services, or other stuff may well be important and useful and interesting and engaging and worth spending time and money on.

But not necessarily.  And it’s easy to forget that in the middle of the craziness.  Folks get excited.  I get excited.  And I sometimes, willingly or otherwise, suspend my disbelief.  And that’s not good for anybody1.

So as I sit here gearing up for hearing and sharing and listening and talking and writing and exploring so much with so many people, I’m reminding myself in public that I’ll need to have my crap detector fully functional and powered up throughout the conference.

If I run into you and ask you a question or two, know that I’m not asking to discredit you or make you uncomfortable, I’m asking because I owe it to myself and my employer and the students and staff I’m responsible for to make sure that I’m doing my due diligence.

There’s plenty of snake oil here at ISTE.  And plenty of good stuff. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t aware of the potential and the good.

But there’s no rule that says the junk has to be clearly labeled.  And usually, it’s not. So my crap detector is spooled up, and I’m paying attention2.  Here’s to a great ISTE 2011.

How are you working to make sure you’re approaching what you see and do with a mind for what’s important?  How’re you working to improve your crap detector?  Let me know in the comments.

  1. Well, actually, it’s good for the bad salespeople.  The ones who want to sell you something that you don’t need, want, or could benefit from. The good salespeople, the ones I enjoy doing business with, are the folks who ensure that I actually need their product or service.  I dig good salespeople.  Lots. Sales is not evil. []
  2. Or trying to, at least.  Keep me honest. []