MTM: Media Transition Motivation
Media transition anxiety, as I discussed in my last post, would stop us dead in our tracks if not for its counterbalancing force - Media Transition Motivation. "Motivation" comes from the Latin "motus," meaning "to move." Something moves us from our old cyberspace environments into new ones. Something internal pushes us into trying out new software despite any trepidations that stand in the way. What creates that motivation? Here are several possibilities:
1. Necessity: It's the mother of invention as well as media transitions. Our familiar programs, workspaces, and social environments seem a bit tired and outdated. They don't work as well as they used to, or we become painfully aware of how we could be doing a lot more than what the status quo allows us. In this age of information and communication, if others are gathering resources and sharing in ways that we can't, we may find ourselves woefully behind the curve and out of the loop. I was forced to upgrade to OSX when Eudora for sys 9 could no longer send emails. Sometimes you just have to move on.
2. Pride: Being behind the curve is not exactly a prestigious position, especially for those who consider themselves sophisticated users or even hackers. Maintaining one's self-esteem requires that push into the next new thing that everyone is talking about, or perhaps even beyond them and into the leading edge of the curve. I'm not a professional digital photographer or website designer, but CS2 and Studio MX make me feel like one :-)
3. Competition: Not far from pride is the need to be at least one step ahead of the others. Bigger, faster, more powerful, unique. The shine of those winning medals can be irresistable, especially in a culture that idealizes both technology and competition.
4. Mastery: Even setting aside the pride that might accompany one's accomplishments, people sometimes push forward into a new cyberspace challenge simply because it's a challenge. The competitive perks may be irrelevant. It's the sense of mastering the thing that motivates you.
5. Adventure: Some people shy away from the unknown, while others seek it out. There are sensation-seekers who repel down cliffs and jump from airplanes, and they have their counterparts in cyberspace - the people who want to go where no one has gone before. It's an online rush. That was my impression of many people at the Palace, back in its pioneering days.
6. The Carrot: At the end of the struggle, there's a specific reward. Your own blog. A burned disk of your favorite mp3s. Talking with people who love pugs, like you. Psychologists call it a "reinforcement." People will work long and hard for a big reinforcement, though usually there are small ones along the way, including those step-by-step moments of mastery.
We might organize all of these motivations according to Maslow's famous hierarchy. At the bottom, we have those basic needs to resolve the practical problems of everyday living, which means we have to communicate in order to acquire resources. At intermediate levels, we establish social bonds, share experiences, and feel like we belong. At the highest levels, as we pass through stages of mastery and self-esteem, we enter new cyberspace environments as a way to self-actualize, to creatively express ourselves... and figure out who we are.