Terry Heaton has a great essay entitled “Chaos at the Door.” The entire essay deserves a read as it really captures the groundswell of activity around citizen’s media and how it relates macro economically to hierarchical order, and micro economically to journalists in particular. But what I found most entertaining was his discussion of a journalism student’s reaction to the idea that professional journalists should be coached by the students:
“Near the end of the Ball State think tank, an idea was considered that involved inviting mid-career
journalists to the University for mentor/protégé sessions where students would
be the mentors. It was felt that this might be a good way to bring experienced
journalists out of the Adams' quandary.
A very bright student that was present raised his hand and asked, ‘Why would I want to do that, when I'm essentially competing with these people for jobs?’”
Terry goes on to quote the student:
“The larger problem at issue is the number of mid-career journalists in decision-making positions who haven't maintained their tech skills and haven't kept up with internet trends. Asking a student to give them the Cliffs Notes version of what has been happening in the world the past 10-15 years is sad. Rather than wasting time training editors and publishers about the benefits of the internet, mid-career journalists should start listening to their younger colleagues or interns and acting upon their youthful recommendations. Then maybe newspapers would be closer to where they should be by now.”
It seems that the younger the individual the more likely they are to have access to a breadth information that most adults would find surprising. And as Terry says, information is power.
It’s not even like I’m 60 and looking back at “them young whippersnappers.” I’m 33 and most of my friends are in their 30s and 40s. And most of them, while technically adept, don’t have a clue about much of what is coming down the pike. They can barely use Bloglines effectively, let alone Del.icio.us. This used to be true of people in their 50s and 60s a decade ago. It’s as if wisdom is taking a quick flip from old to young. It’s now those at the beginning of life that hold the keys to knowledge. The older you get, the more experience you have, but the less valuable this experience becomes as the utility of experience approaches obsolescence at an ever increasing pace.
I’ve been reading a bit of Kurzweil recently, so I may have my head in the clouds a bit, but it’s difficult to deny that information is not just becoming democratized, it’s also empowering the young in some very interesting ways. I hope they know what the hell they’re doing...