Tech Literacy Has Nothing To Do With Age


I know plenty of people of all generations, including my parents, who are actively embracing the latest digital platforms and technologies (and having a good time doing so).

Things are at a point tech is democratized and doesn’t require any specialized knowledge to use. It’s nearly all common sense.

So when I saw Dave Winer’s post this morning sharing how a journalist has sadly “given up” trying to learn new things, I had to share it. I’ve summarized the key bits:

Joe Nocera, columnist for the NY Times, has waved the technological white flag of surrender on behalf of his generation. In a recent column he said: “I acknowledge I’m at the age where I’m losing the battle to keep up with technology.”

That’s such crap. This is a columnist at the NY Times? He’s willing himself into obsolescence. My own opinion — if he’s too lazy or stupid to get with technology, which today is incredibly dumbed-down and easy to learn — then they should get a person Nocera’s age who’s not so quick to give up on themselves.

[on how to solve this]…send Nocera to remedial tech boot camp. Find him a tutor who will tell him how Twitter works. Show him how to take a picture with his smartphone. Show him how to install the Instagram app. In a couple of weeks, he’ll see how ridiculous the idea that, at age 61, you can’t get on board with the latest mobile technology. It’s designed for idiots who can’t be bothered to read docs, for crying out loud.

The Times is doing its readers a disservice by telling them a 61-year-old can’t understand the arc of tech. Go the other way. Set the expectation that they can.

It’s crazy anyone would give up learning and be fearful of change at any point in their life. Put technology aside, a quote from philosopher John Dewey I heard as a child that’s stuck with me is relevant here: Education is not preparation for life, it is life itself. Unfortunately we still live in a world where not everyone embraces this, and it’s especially sad when those in a position to share information at scale choose to give up.

A commenter added:

journalist: finds out stuff. this is pretty much the opposite of that. the internet went commercial roughly 20 years ago. if you were alive then and had first world access to information and technology, being behind today is willful ignorance

people in their 40s and 50s today were working adults in the 90s when the internet happened commercially; they are the generation who invented making the technology accessible in the first dotcom boom, from technology to marketing.

for people who have access, time and money, there is no excuse for not keeping up beyond intentional blindness.

Can’t agree enough. As I’ve said for years, none of this stuff is newSome have made a conscious decision to fight the future, others have ignored it, yet those embracing it are changing the world for the better.

The reality we live in is that digital communication is no longer a new thing and continues a rapid ascension over the last several decades. It’s the obvious future, moving fast, sure, but not that fast. Anyone who wants to be a part of it can. And the best part is learning about new technologies, platforms and programming languages has never been easier. It’s possible for anyone, it’s simply a matter of choice.

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