Earlier this month, Harvard Business Review published “Mindfulness in the Age of Complexity,” an interview with Ellen Langer, who has researched for decades on the effects of mindful thinking across a wide range of fields. Langer defines mindfulness through a psychological lens, as a “process of actively noticing new things.” She argues that this makes us actively engaged in the present, so that we’re “more sensitive to context and perspective.” In other words, we become more open-minded and focused with what’s in front of us in each individual moment, experience, and interaction.
While reading the article, I thought about our hands-on Drupal training sessions, which we began holding a couple of weeks ago. Though still in development, we’ve been unveiling the new IU Libraries website to content managers, walking through the whats and how-tos. One of our hopes is that these introductions will ease the transition from the old-and-familiar to the new-and-very-different. With these training sessions, it seems to me that we are priming users for mindfulness. They’re presented the Drupal environment in ways that give them a sense of the guts of it and how it comes together. And, since the site is, again, still in development, we’re asking for a sense of open-mindedness, indeed an aspect of mindfulness, since new bugs, wrenches, and general Huh?s pop up daily.
Mindfulness begets openness to all things new. Many of the features in the Drupal environment are intuitive, but others are less so, which means there are many new things for users to figure out and become accustomed to. Luckily, most people have seemed open and actively look for new things, as they poke and click around to discover how to do things on their own. From this, I’m reminded of mindfulness in the sense that, as Langer points out, there’s no one way to do something. We can instruct with basic directions for library branch mangers on how to add department pages, or for subject librarians on how to create feature posts, but really, there’s some flexibility in how it makes sense for users once they’re elbows deep in creating and adding content to the site.
Along these lines, by being mindful, the rules, routines, and goals will guide us rather than govern us, so that we’re not restricted to having new things reflecting the legacy site, so that we’re not solving “today’s problems with yesterday’s solutions.” So, in applying mindfulness to learning/working with/teaching the new IUB Libraries’ website in Drupal, I think it all comes down to mindfulness teaching flexibility, which in our case, leads to a better user experience both on the front- and back-ends of our website.