MLX Package of the Week: No Fear of Databases

Another task that has had its wheels fallen off was my plan to highlight different Maricopa Learning eXchange (MLX) packages of merit. We should be ramping up the loading dock, as we are nearing in the last week of our “Great MLX Package Race” incentive program (offering software prizes for college and individual contributions).

But here we try to re-attach the wheel with MLX Package #1158, “Are You AFRAID of Databases?”, along with a story, and a dash or sarcastic irony…

Last week, Spring Break in fact, Butch Hoffman from GateWay Community College sent a system wide email, lamenting that many people in our system do not take advantage of the powers of desktop databases in Access provided with their Microsoft Office packages (well at least the PC users). He attempted to educate with some examples how and why databases are more powerful than spreadsheets.

Now sharing this information is great, but as I have barked before, while ubiquitous, e-mail is likely more of a Knowledge Mis-Management tool, as we are subject to what I have coined “E-mail Attachment Disorder.” As I wrote privately to Butch, e-mail is not readily searchable (yes I know outlook has a search function, but what happens when the server empties your old read messages?), it does not store forever, and it is wasteful as it sends multiple copies to many who will not use it, rather than storing it once, and sending a short link.

Then I prodded Butch to consider posting his nugget in the MLX, along with the prodding that it was completely powered by a database.

And he did! With “Are You AFRAID of Databases?”, Butch not only has the original list of tips he offered via e-mail, but he also appended a file of the 20+ comments he received (one within 6 minutes of his message) eager for these kinds of tips (an interesting read as an MLX supplement- people are hungry for simple tips for using technology), and a revised/updated copy of his “Database No Fear” document.

So this is the dream. Rather than the everyday process of sending X times to X people large attachments (agendas and announcements as Word docs, big fat PowerPoints for the entire Math department, when about 90% of X will not even read or keep them, post these to a web site, to the MLX, to MERLOT, heck, anywhere, and all you need send as an email, is a bandwidth friendly short message and a link.

It is time for a 12-step program to address the issue of Email Attachment Disorder.

So thanks Butch for stepping up to the plate.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


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