There’s an excellent commentary by Barb Brown on the role of Technology Stewards.
Being a technology steward has very little to do with being an experttechnology user, instead it’s much more about understanding theconnections and interactions of human networks.
In The Full Circle Online Interaction Blog, Nancy White along with Etienne Wenger and John Smith define Technology stewards as: “peoplewith enough experience of the workings of a community to understand itstechnology needs, and enough experience with technology to takeleadership in addressing those needs.”
I think this hits it squarely on the head. I would only add that it also requires a lot of ‘soft’ skills, such as patience and diplomacy. Based on my own experience with the Improvement and Development Agency’s communities of practice, I spend more time explaining to current and potential users why we shouldn’t be embarking on some particular technical enhancement – which may meet the needs of one or two users at the expense of aggravating several hundred others – than getting on with ensuring the overall environment is fit for purpose. A recent request was to enable postings by ‘proxy users’ – i.e. for someone to submit a blog or a forum entry in someone else’s name. Quite where this would have left us legally if the ‘real’ person had disagreed with the content being published in his or her name by the proxy is anyone guess. Thus I think the ‘stewarding’ is probably more important than the ‘technical’ part of the job title!