Looking for lifelong learners

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andrew I've been catching up with podcasts. Something tells me that I've subscribed to more than I can consume. This morning I listened to one of Jon Udell's Innovator interviews with Andrew Rasiej, who calls himself a Social Entrepreneur.

The interview hit home on a number of levels. One point which was particularly painful: If you have an opportunity to work with a 20 year old or a 50 year old in a project - work with the 20 year old. Sigh... That's a problem at two levels, first because I'm about to turn 62, and second because the network I'm trying to build has no one below 50. Supposedly if you're lifelong learner, you're an exception and you should look for others. Jon...

The discussion touched on a few positives for me as well, how the abundance social networking contrasts with the scarcity of email communications. I won't bother explaining - just listen.

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For what it's worth, I don't personally believe that a random 20-year-old is any more likely to be a lifelong learner than a random 50-year-old.

And I do believe that the "kids are digital natives who Just Get It" meme does everyone a disservice.

To the extent that what you're trying to accomplish relies on shared cultural norms that are rapidly evolving in the online digital realm, it's true that you may be able to gain more traction sooner with younger folk.

But not necessarily. When Gardner Campbell and I co-presented in Boston at the University Continuing Education Association conference, he showed a wonderful clip of Daniel Schorr encountering Twitter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLzSgtG29is

Schorr got it immediately.

Jon, while we might regard ourselves as "LifeLong Learners", we're probably known as "those geeks" among many of our acquaintances. That label than lets them off the hook (only geeks would...) when we draw something of value to their attention.

But the real spoilers among the 50 year olds are opinion leaders who have used information scarcity to maintain their power base. Today's 20 year old is more likely to use information abundance to build a power base.

When, as in my case, the audience only exists of over 50 year olds, you get caught between being a geek and being seen to undermine the elite.

> That label than lets them off the hook (only
> geeks would...)

Yes. I have come to seriously regret allowing that label to get stuck onto my forehead.

> But the real spoilers among the 50 year olds are
> opinion leaders who have used information scarcity to
> maintain their power base. Today's 20 year old is more
> likely to use information abundance to build a power base.

I would love to know more about how you see and understand that abundance == power equation.

The view from my "armchair" would be:

* The PC disrupted the old IT hierarchy.
* Open source software is disrupted traditional software vendors.
* Search disrupted Pink Pages.
* Democrats disrupted Republicans with openness and crowdsourcing.

In local organisations, ordinary members often have better (or simply equal) access to information than insiders because the abundance of available data and ways to publish fact and opinion.

There is an opportunity for individuals to gain power on the basis of rational decision making and openness. Or more likely, those thirsty for power will use openness and rational decision making as the way to get it.

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