Hitchhiking on the Information Superhighway
The National Psychologist
Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D.
Let me start by stating flatly that "I am not a techie!" I have never worn a pocket protector and I am not sure that I even know what many of the buzzwords mean. I am, however, very interested in the impact of technology.
If you feel like you are the last in your profession to merge onto the information superhighway, be assured: You are not. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers posed by psychologists and others:
Q: What is the Information Superhighway, anyway?
A: The Information Superhighway is a fountain of valuable information contained in computers worldwide. By pressing a few keys on a computer or by using a mouse to click on a picture on the screen, you can, in a few seconds, find any of the following:
and so forth ..................
Q: Isn't it difficult to get this information?
A: As with any new gadget - whether it is an automobile, a VCR, a watch or whatever - there is a period of time where the public has to help the developers "work out the bugs." The Information Superhighway has been around for over 25 years and most of the bugs have been worked out. Now, the information is easier to obtain and in the next year or two it will be even easier.
Q: What else can I do on the Information Superhighway?
A: Well, you can send a message to anyone who has a computer address. You just type something on your computer and then it is sent off through the airwaves to arrive anywhere in the world minutes later. As of this minute there are about 30,000,000 plus people in universities, government and business who have these addresses. This number is growing rapidly. You can also discuss any topic imaginable with people all over the world. You can even take a guided tour through the White House (on the computer screen, of course). The things you can do on the Information Superhighway are nearly endless.
Q: It seems like everyone I know has a computer. Am I the last Psychologist to join the Computer Revolution?
A: Actually, believe it or not, you are one of the first - a trailblazer of sorts. In a recent quick survey of 72 mental health practitioners I found that although nearly two-thirds of all psychologists had a computer or had access to one, hardly any were using the Information Superhighway. Psychologists are not all that different from the rest of the US population according to recent surveys from Gallup, Harris, and Bell Atlantic. Only a few Americans have tried the Information Highway.
Q: Why haven't Psychologists jumped on board?
A: There are two reasons. First, many mental health practitioners have either been uncomfortable with technology or have resisted technology. They are not alone! According to a recent Gallup Poll nearly one-half of all business executives were either "cyberphobic" or "technology resisters." The second reason Psychologists have not merged onto the Information Superhighway is that until recently there was little reason to do so. Now, many insurance companies are beginning to encourage Psychologists to "technologize" to facilitate communication. In addition, in the economic crunch of the 90s, business people are realizing that they need to be on top of the world (and its news) to make a living. This can be very difficult given the proliferation of magazines, journals, newspapers, etc. where critical information often lies unread. The Information Superhighway makes this job considerably easier. And, as we are told again and again, psychologists are business people.
Q: As you said, we are suffering through an economic crunch, and I don't have a lot of "disposable income" to buy a computer. Aren't they expensive?
A: You are in luck! Prices on computers have been dropping rapidly and you can buy a very good system (with all the parts that you need) for around $2,000 to $3,000. Check our articles in the September/October 1994 issue of this newspaper for "Seven Steps to Technologize Your Practice". This will tell you what you "really" need.
Q: What can I do with my computer?
A: For a modest amount of money you can:
Q: Where can I find out more?
A: Read this newspaper. The Sept./Oct. issue provided tons of invaluable information. Future Hitchhiking on the Information Superhighway columns will tell you more. Let me know what you want to hear. What confuses you? What interests you? What have you always wanted to know ... but were afraid to ask? In future columns I plan to discuss some of the nuts and bolts of technology including fax machines (how do they work?), on-line services (what is available?), office management systems, assessment programs, clinical applications, etc. Let me know what interests you by calling or faxing me at 714-538-6890.
Copyright, 1995, The National Psychologist. Reprinted with permission. The National Psychologist is a privately-owned bimonthly newspaper which may be purchased for $30 a year. Write or call: TNP, 6100 Channingway Blvd., Suite 303, Columbus, OH 43232; telephone: 614.861.1999 or fax with Visa or MC to 614.861.1996.