I’ve heard the same theme from other people: the older generations just don’t get what all the new tech is about. I’m not finding that to be true in my world. Maybe I’m unaware of my own unaware-ness, but I always feel like I do generally get what the next big tech/music/tv thing is about. Maybe I haven’t hit the event horizon that separates young from old yet, maybe I haven’t hung out wiht kids that are much much younger than I am. Not sure, but I get the concept…just not been experiencing it much.
I’m all for changing how we educate our young, though.
Lets be clear about what were measuring here. It has very little to do with specific technologies and everything to do with our adaptation to technology as a culture. What Cringelys Nth Law of Computing predicts is our rate of adaptation to technological life. This happens not at the rate technologies are developed but at the rate we are capable of broadly absorbing them. Weve seen this sort of thing before, of course. I used to work in user interface design and noticed long ago that it took about a decade for every new interface standard to be absorbed by technical culture. This dates back a lot longer than most of us might guess, all the way back to microfilm readers in the 1960s. Older engineers couldnt stand reading microfilm while younger engineers found it effortless. Same for microfiche, which followed microfilm. The same effect could be found in typing: older people – mainly men – wouldnt adapt to it, but those who used a typewriter in high school or college quickly learned they could not live without it. Ditto for computers, first with batch processing, then time-sharing terminals, then command-line PCs, then graphical user interfaces, and now emerging mobile platforms. Each new technology is difficult for the older generation and easy for the younger, which explains why I am a PC master but a texting idiot. Im just too damned old.
Here, buried in my sixth paragraph, is the most important nugget: weve reached the point in our disparate cultural adaptation to computing and communication technology that the younger technical generations are so empowered they are impatient and ready to jettison institutions most of the rest of us tend to think of as essential, central, even immortal. They are ready to dump our schools.