Digital native BS = age discrimination


In our session at the recent CLO Symposium, we asked the audience to tell us what they wanted us to talk about. The first response came from Dan Pontefract. Dan heads up learning and collaboration at Canadian communications giant Telus. He handed me a piece of paper on which he’d written “The Fallacy of Digital Natives.”

I said age discrimination is illegal in this country. My colleague Clark Quinn followed up with half a dozen reasons why dividing the world into digital natives and digital immigrants is bunk. Jane Hart hopped into the fray and pointed out that she was hardly Gen Y yet is very plugged in. I mentioned that while I was one of the very early bloggers, I’m old enough to carry a medicare card.

Dan Pontefract

Now Dan has written the definitive debunk of the fallacy of digital nativism.

My summary: It’s not the people who’ve changed; it’s the world that’s changed.

Many years ago, my job was selling training for commercial loan officers to major banks. I talked with chief credit officers and senior loan officers at scores of the largest banks in North America. Occasionally, I’d fall back on the elder generation’s pervasive distrust of twenty-somethings. They lack discipline; they don’t understand how the world works; they’re different from you and me; they need to be trained. It was bullshit then and it’s bullshit now but it keeps old fogies self-satisfied.

The bottom line is that people are people.

As for technology, it changes the game for everyone. As Stewart Brand once said, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.”