Meet Victoria Michaels of Independence Conservancy!
TNotes: What is your “real” job title?
VM: Executive Director of Independence Conservancy.
TNotes: Why are you considered an accidental techie?
VM: Isn’t it more like “accumulated” than “accidental”? Like dust bunnies accumulating under a bed, cobwebs forming in a corner, or rust decorating an old car? It’s a consequence of the evolution of a person managing a nonprofit!
TNotes: What do you like best about dealing with your organization’s technology?
VM: Even though I howl about it at times, it’s forced me to grow a lot over the years, and I do enjoy learning to use new programs and gadgets. It’s particularly amazing that software as powerful as GIS is available to ordinary folk to do geospatial analysis on a laptop in the field. Even desktop publishing is a marvel compared to the cumbersome process it used to be – taking your work to a printer, waiting, settling for his interpretation of your vision. We have so much freedom now.
TNotes: What do you least like about dealing with your organization’s technology?
VM: Lack of a high-speed internet connection. I work from a home office about a mile off-road in the woods. I’ve been told by every service provider there is that no one will ever run a cable for internet or TV back here for only one customer. So I’m stuck with a virtual tin can on a string. The satellite dish is a vast improvement over dial-up, but I know I’m missing an awful lot that the rest of the world takes for granted.
TNotes: What is your big dream for technology in your organization?
VM: If I hit the lottery, I’d throw hundred dollar bills at somebody till I got a convoy of bucket trucks to string fiber optics back here. Barring that, I’d like all the people I work with on a regular basis to get more serious about improving their tech skills. Gee, I’d even settle for them checking their email once a day!
TNotes: How do you manage your role as an accidental techie?
VM: As economically as possible. We are a small, all-volunteer organization, and every dollar counts. We don’t buy anything unless it’s vital or unavoidable. Fix it up; make it do; wear it out. Gouge the letters right off the keyboard! When the satellite dish freezes up, throw buckets of hot water at it until the signal comes back. Deal with it.
TNotes: You are a regular attendee at one of the Bayer Center’s Bagels & Bytes group – what do you get from going to those meetings?
VM: The camaraderie is great, but it does reinforce how badly I need high speed internet service.
TNotes: Any words of advice or encouragement for other accidental techies out there?
VM: When it gets frustrating, make yourself a nice hot cup of tea, sit down in front of the disaster-du-jour and just take your time and puzzle it out. Eat as much chocolate as you need to remain calm. When all else fails, call somebody who knows more than you do. Chances are you’ll be laughing about it later.