The Generation Gap : We were then. They are now

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The Generation Gap : We were then. They are now

Postby brockbankdm-p40 » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:50 pm

We read from the Encyclopedia Britannica, and they create definitions on Wikipedia.

We preferred watching the show, and they want to be part of it (over 50,000 videos are being made on You Tube each day.

We listened as the news anchor, politician, and teacher spoke to us. They comment on the news, blog about political candidates and parties, and have a voice that wants to be heard.

We grew up trying to find our place in the world, and now they want to shape and define it.

We are their parents, and they are our children.

We lecture them, but find they only wanted to be mentored.

At times we resort to controlling them, while they fight back only wanting to be enabled.

We believed that your participation in society meant getting the right title, degree, or promotion. You then became a specialist or expert with the necessary clout to treat patients, open your business doors, or be the PR person for a company. But mostly we thought you got a job.

Experience mattered.

They believe in the “wisdom of the crowd” where anyone can participate, especially online. (That is where all business is going anyway!) Your reputation comes from an eBay seller rating, Amazon book review, or idea you gave Dell on They believe you create your opportunities.

Contribution matters.

In 2004, a 23-year old Harvard student created Facebook. Today it has 41 million users, mostly college kids who prefer to hang out there than crack the books. Experts estimate Facebook may now be worth $7-$8 billion. No wonder it has caught the attention of Microsoft, Yahoo, and other powerhouses who want to niche market to these users. And for the student? Forget email. It’s much more fun to “poke” a friend or write on their “wall” on Facebook!

In 1999, a 19 year old shook up the music industry when he created Napster and allowed people to share music over the Internet without having to purchase their own CD. The power shifted to the consumer who now experiences more convenience and choice (you don’t have to drive down to the store, and purchase nine other songs you didn’t want on the CD).

Our generation was cautious and not so presumptuous in leading our lives. The younger generation is unapologetic about shaping their lives - and our’s as well.

Napster changed the music industry, and experts believe Facebook and other collaborative, social networking sites will change our work cultures. We live in the Knowledge Age. Knowledge is created as a by-product of interaction. And Business Week says the winners in business will be those who "host the best conversations."

We thought the rule was to “stop talking and get back to work”, your studies, etc. And They believe “start talking and get to work”.

Blogs, wikis, YouTube, Facebook, Napster…These are disruptive technologies. And our kids - and their generation - are the disruptive technologists.

Suddenly Potential is challenging Experience. And Talent appears pretty tall “standing up straight” next to Position.

No wonder we’re revisiting questions about social proprieties, views about authority, and how best to get work done.

Experts say we are immigrants to this strange world, who don’t really understand the technology, and are wary of its future. And they are natives who speak the language, know the technology, and embrace its future.

We saw the world as hierarchical, but a book author is saying it’s flat. And when we thought we could trust the expert, other experts are teaching us about the “power of us”.(After all, last year, you and me were named as Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year”)

As parents, we have experienced both worlds, and have our past to help us see the difference. Our kids have no recollection of things past, and only know the present.

Their college experience teaches them that knowledge is power, but are prone to enter into paths of powerful - even destructive - forces. Our life’s experiences have wisely taught us that not all knowledge is of equal worth, and that we must look to a higher power.

We need their enthusiasm, drive and brave entrance into this digital age. And they need our counsel, wisdom and experience to navigate it carefully.

Certainly, our distinct roles are shifting, but they both still do matter. For now more than ever before, we need each other.

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