Technology Is Not About Technology

I was researching on some history and came across an article that I had written for a paper version of NARMS Today back in 2005. I thought I would share. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed re-visiting it.

The week before the NARMS 2005 Conference, I visited my son at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. I am a bit of a newspaper buff, so I grabbed a copy of the Oxford Times at the local gas station and stuffed it in my briefcase, intending to read it on the plane ride to Tucson.

On the plane ride home, after several days of intense NARMSing, I remembered my copy of the Times and pulled it out to read. It was a typical neighborhood newspaper, full of local stories on garage sales, lost cats, high school sports and blurry photos contributed by local residents. It was printed with heavy black ink that smeared on my palms and probably eventually made its way to parts of my face.

But I didn’t care. I immersed myself in the banal stories and took in the heavy smell of ink and paper.
Something about holding a newspaper connects the reader with the stories and photos on a personal level. Then it occurred to me that is a lot like a local newspaper.

Both – local newspapers and – thrive because they are organic and specific. The web site is successful because it is organic. The parts of the website that are most useful are those that connect people to people. NARMS developed it because of core needs of those who were involved in the retail service industry.

NARMS did not set out to create a new product or service but simply to fulfill an existing need in a more efficient way. Many of you remember the dot-com frenzy of nearly a decade ago. Not many of those websites are in business because they sought to create a need instead of filling one that already existed. is also successful because it is specific. The JobBank and the Recruiter, for example, don’t aspire to be the most searched or hold the greatest number of jobs andprofiles. It is there for one reason — to match retail service reps with retail services companies who need them. Like a local newspaper, has a specific focus and delivers only the tools and information that are most critical for its audience.

To some, it must feel strange for an article about technology to be looking back at what has been called a dead and dying industry; newspapers. But technology does not exist in a vacuum. It exits to serve human beings with organic and specific needs. Absorbing and applying lessons taught by feeling, watching and experiencing an industry that thrives in spite of the onslaught and seduction of “new media” and 24 hour news, helps provide a clear vision for our web-based services to the NARMS membership.

Gerard McLean, President, Rivershark, Inc.

Originally published at