I spoke to two community college classes this morning about technology and the internet. I took a quick poll and was amazed at how few of them had ever bought or sold anything on eBay. It isn’t like eBay is some new tool, but most of them had never used it.
I think it is important to invest time in trying out new tools. Obviously you can go overboard and waste time playing with everything that comes out, but if you don’t try out something new, you won’t have the experience to understand when the tool could really help you.
For these college students, I suggested that they all take the time to buy and sell something on eBay. Preferably something cheap so if they mess up they don’t lose much. Getting the initial learning experience out of the way when the stakes are low, is a good way to prepare for the future.
The fact that so many of them hadn’t used eBay really surprised me, but it is motivating me to look for areas where I haven’t tried out new things. You have to invest some time now, so you can save time later. Not every investment will pay off, but if you are careful with your investments you will come out ahead in the long run.
Okay, I’m off to make a list of online tools or services that I haven’t tried out yet.
Why recommend eBay use across the board?
Auctioning something online doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you tell people to do “just for the experience”. eBay is a tool, and like any tool, it’s best use is when the job calls for it. You don’t walk around with a hammer hoping to find a nail; the nail should present itself first, no?
It’s good to know the tools at your disposal, sure, but I find your advice sort of… odd.
I’m not suggesting that they use eBay to solve every problem. They should however take the time to go through the buying and selling process, just so they understand it–not just for the sake of understanding eBay, but also so they better understand ecommerce and online communities. I also suggested that they take an afternoon and play around with a free Blogger or WordPress account. Without these experiences they will be extremely limited in a world where more and more things are moving online.
There is a certain amount of difficulty in doing something new. If you are familiar with online tools, using a new tool is not a big deal. However, if you have never purchased anything online, making a purchase from eBay, Expedia, or Amazon is likely to be a bigger deal to you.
If you get familiar with tools before you need to use them for something important, you’ll be much better off than the person who ignores a tool until they have to use it and then has to use it under pressure.