Re[2]: Over 45? Geriatric!

Subject: Re[2]: Over 45? Geriatric!
From: Iain Harrison <iharrison -at- SCT -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 12:27:38 GMT

Elna Tymes writes:
...know of a number of people who are not using email - and in
fact, are reluctant to use a computer for much of anything.
However, I suspect that most of these folks are 45 or older, and
in most cases don't have long life expectancies in the business
world. What new information technologies provide is improved
access to and use of information, and increasingly that's where
business in general is headed. Intranets are simply one of the
information tools.

I assume that you are under 45 yourself, then? It is refreshing to
know that people with such blinkered ageist attitudes are still
prepared to make them public. Many people work until their late
sixties, over twenty years after they are 45, and I understand the
typical time that someone stays in an IT-related job is less than
three years. That means these people who "don't have long life
expectancies in the business world" can expect to have eight more
permanent jobs in their working life.

Being still under 45 (but old enough to have to calculate my age to
be sure of this), I wonder how my abilities will deteriorate in the
next 6 months as I approach that awful watershed. I know plenty of
old stick-in-the-mud characters who haven't yet seen their 25th
birthday. I also know a couple of people in their 80s who have seen
such huge changes in the world they live in that I can't even fully
comprehend them. They cope with those changes and thrive on them.
They also use email productively.

That doesn't mean that change to modern methods is always A Good
Thing. Of course many people over 45 have no use for email. They have
lived in a society that didn't have it, and probably have been
working in a way that successfully communicated without it.

If you'd seen as many companies go under as a result of
ill-considered leaps into using computers as I have, you would see
wisdom in sticking to tried and trusted communication. This morning,
our office phones were having problems. The complex and expensive
digital phone system with links here there and everywhere misbehaved.
OK, we got by, but the more mission-critical something is, the more
resilient it has to be.

Air traffic controllers still use little bits of cardboard in wooden
holders in many ATC centres. It may not be hi-tech, but when my life
depends on it, I like the way that cardboard copes with brownouts and
network failures.

To consider people who have enough experience to have a more broad
outlook to be past it in being inherently resistant to innovation may
be a view, but it isn't one I share. I'm as guilty as any in
embracing new toys, but I'm not entirely convinced it is always wise.

For example, there are huge implications in the longer term of
electronic communication. Where is the historian's source material
from a hundred years ago or more? Paper, that's where. What
historical records are we leaving for posterity from our electronic
communication? Does it matter? I don't know, but I'm not sure that
anyone else does either.

If I sound irritated by ageism, just put it down to my age as I
approach 45.

iharrison -at- sct -dot- co -dot- uk

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