The kids are alright

As I sit here my son is playing Beat On The Brat by The Ramones as he gets ready for bed. We’ve just come back from a "Parent’s Evening".
For US readers a Parent’s Evening is an opportunity to go to your child’s school and hear how your off spring are amazing teaching staff with their genius or how they are into hard drugs and attacking classmates in the common room.
Ours is not a genius - nor, I think is he a crack addict, but he is bright and, if he gets the grades for university, is planning a career in journalism. As a former journalist, with no money or pension I have tried to push him in another direction (Note to All Parents: Never, ever push your children in a direction).
But I was intrigued by a recent post by Sacred Facts on the three ages of media and what a career in media means - or what it meant and what it might mean in the future. It goes like this:

Media Career 1.0 (1950s - 1990s)
Go to University, preferably Oxbridge, and take an arts degree to develop your mind. Join a local newspaper or radio station. Blag your way in. Work your way up to a national newsroom or production department. Find an organisation you like and dig in for the long haul. Specialise in print or radio or TV. Climb the vertical ladder step by step, grade by grade. In the 1980s independent production companies open a few more opportunities. It's important to read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch lots of TV. Your employers will even pay you expenses to do so. In the 1990s managers start to talk about "multiskilling". This is obviously a ruse to get you to do two jobs for the price of one and should be resisted. As should any steps to take away your desk/office/locker. You worry content is becoming a mere commodity - it used to be a vocation. Don't panic about the introduction of computers and "emails" - they are just electronic memos. You read "Three Blind Mice" about how the TV networks failed to spot the threat from cable. If you are lucky you may occasionally be asked to go to a conference in another country - airports are exciting. Someone talks about a new idea of "working from home" - sounds like a good way to get a long weekend and avoid dull meetings.

Media Career 2.0 (1990s - 2015)
Take a media studies course that will teach you digital production - or computer science that will teach you how to build web pages. Blag your way in. Move from job to job trying to find interesting projects to build out your CV. Don't specialise in one skill - you need at least two or three. You're your own person and have no interest in a career ladder. If your employer is too restrictive - freelance or, better, offer yourself as a web consultant. Live out of your (Mac) laptop. Your last boss offered you a corner desk to get you to stay - wtf? You never sit at one anyway. You will need Twitter, Facebook, IM as well as email accounts to keep in touch with your peers and find out where the next opportunity may be. You will find yourself watching less and less TV, but radio (or rather audio) is good because you can stream it through your Mac while you work. Don't bother with newspapers - too analogue. What matters are ideas that can be monetized. You read "The Cluetrain Manifesto" about how markets got smarter than business. Make sure you regularly get to one of the many conferences where the digital clan gathers for its global campfire summits. If you can't get a ticket there are lots of social media drinks and breakfasts to go to instead. Airports are a hassle - no free wifi. When you're stoked and on a great project you work 24/7 to get it done - then take 3 weeks off. They can always get you on your mobile and you'll avoid dull meetings.

Media Career 3.0 (2015 - ?)
Take a series of highly vocational courses to give you the widest set of skills you can manage - coding, video, business, psychology, economics, law, web science, marketing. Blag your way in. Network constantly and aggressively. It's all about who you know. The successful ones sit on a beach in Australia and run the website for a European magazine or run an automated digital service which purrs away and earns them money from micro-payments while they sleep; some Californian guy pings you on your all-service IM (which you have open 24/7) to get you to do for his site what you did for the contract before last. Your functionality delivers higher returns than most of your colleagues - so the work chases you. If it doesn't - switch careers. You have to have a network of contacts to thrive - there is no distinction between home and work. TVs? What was the point of those? You watch video on your phone. Print? Too niche. Audio is good because you can stream it on your Mac while you work. You read Lawrence Lessig's latest book on how internet governance failed to keep up with technology. Your mobile screen is your office - you've never met your boss and don't know where he works. Meetings are virtual - video links. Some of the older guys still get on planes to go to conferences and eat together. But airports are hell and since the cost of flying trebled, it hasn't been worth it. You don't do dull meetings.
Yep! I agree with that. And it is already happening.

I agree with all this. But I think Sacred Facts is being a bit too timid. Master Green Gathering Junior, and all his friends, has all this going on:

  • A Facebook profile
  • A Myspace profile
  • A blog
  • A wiki - which he shares with his schoolmates
  • Has spent time in London in the Sony Playstation House doing cool stuff - which they paid for
  • A network of friends from China, Russia, US, Asia, Australia, New Zealand etc who he plays games with online
  • His blog is regularly sent "free games" for him and his friends to review
  • Networks online like his life might be in peril
  • Creates his own podcasts
  • Is completely mobile
  • Plans to live in Japan when he has graduated
  • He reads print - but also uses RSS and other online media
  • He talks to people online he doesn’t know - but at least they are having conversation
Sigh! That’s just the tip of the iceberg. When I was his age my world was confined to home, people I knew in the street, a pen pal or two and that was it. I think the kids are all right…
What do you think?


nursemyra said...

I'm envious :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, the kids ARE alright. I too am envious... Look at the possibilities they have, and they ARE having conversations - Global ones. Not only does this make for a stonger Global community, but it impacts the way we work, live, think, and understand. I am excited that history will be written by those experiencing it - rather than the "experts". I wish I could be alive 100 years from now to see how this all pans out :)