Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Spot a Digital Immigrant

Your neighbors in Palo Alto
How do you spot a spy? 

During WWII, Britain’s M-5 suggested that if an enemy spy was living next door, he would be young, fit, have a slightly odd cut to his clothing and eat strange chocolates.  Watch, too, for a scar or limp, M-5 said, since parachuting from airplanes was treacherous business in the 1940s.

How about today?  WikiHow (To Do Anything) suggests that you might have a spy next door if the person is educated, physically strong and highly intelligent (unless you live in Palo Alto, in which case that’s just your neighbor).   Also, look for an intermittent work history (unless you live in Silicon Valley, in which case that may be your next boss).

It seems spies, despite their best efforts, almost always give themselves away.

Once upon a time, digital immigrants were easy as pie to spot, like knowing that the guy with shorts and black socks, complaining that he didn't get enough ice in his drink in the Paris bistro was, well, an American.

You might recall not many years ago the person who didn't own a computer, "and I don’t see any need for one, either.  I can keep my recipes in a box, thank you.”  Today, that person is perfecting his or her shuffleboard.

There was, you might remember, the CEO who had his secretary print all of his email so he could answer each message by hand, or perhaps by dictation.  (For you Gen Xer’s, write me and I’ll explain “dictation.”  Gen Yer’s, write me and I’ll explain the concept of a “secretary.”  Those younger, write and I'll explain "email.")  This was the same person with a wall of Rolodex across his desk, the prequel to the LinkedIn LION with 10,000 close, personal associates.