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On Digital Natives – Versus Those Who Are Not

Anyone past the age of thirty and with no formal training in IT is often perplexed by any turn of a conversation that gets into software, IT systems and the like. When it goes further into programming and code, then we’re truly lost. Yes, we do understand a lot of basic IT and systems concepts (I count myself among those that do have cursory knowledge), but beyond a certain point we draw blanks.

Some time ago, the FT recently ran an article entitled “Coding as a second language”. Here is an excerpt:

Alliott Cole sees a large number of tech start-ups in his work as principal in the early-stage investment team of private equity firm Octopus. The trouble is that he often struggles to comprehend what those writing the software that underpins those companies are talking about…..Now, however, as modern technology is changing his industry, he feels the need to revisit the basics of how technology functions.

So, a company called Decoded offers training courses to people like you and me. It was launched by three former advertising executives and an award-winning web designer/developer.

So much for understanding code and the new digital language it helps convey, especially to those for whom it is not second nature. Indeed, the younger generations, especially those under the age of 20, have grown up not knowing a world where digital technologies were not ubiquitous. This is a generation steeped in technology and adept at multi-tasking: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a phone or tablet, and reading and/or posting information on Facebook. Don Tapscott (author of Grown Up Digital) talks about "Net Geners" (those currently aged between 11-30) who are the first generation to have literally grown up in a digital world.

For the rest of us, the learning curve is steeper. I’m sure you all have a view on this divide – one that is at least partly shaped by your age but also by how adept you’ve become in using digital technologies. And if you are a manager, that will probably determine how prone you are to embrace new approaches, platforms and, ultimately, new thinking.

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