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Too many of us underestimate our contribution to the 'new' world

Frank Hutton
Floppy disk

It's time to turn the tables. When I saw this online I thought it said reams about operating in a world where you understand what to do in a situation (like switching on the TV) but are not entirely sure how it happens (what happened to cathode ray tubes?).

The excellent Scott Hanselman (I'd recommend a follow on Twitter - @shanselman or see his blog at http://www.hanselman.com/blog/) has wittily observed that there are a whole generation (or two maybe) who are using icons on a PC or phone without knowing the inspiration for those tiny pictures.

His first 'for instance' is the good old 'Save' symbol - it's a floppy disk of course. If you're like me, you've dutifully kept some back ups on floppies of your accounts from that time to please the government, just in case you get inspected. I'm not sure what I'd play them on now! Though I was in a techie store a few weeks back when a guy came in asking for a floppy drive and they were able to accommodate him with one to slip into a USB port on his PC.

The reason I particularly like Scott's observation is the fact that this is 'old' technology shaping the world of the new; our yesterdays are giving a new culture roots and stability for the future. Our slightly 'behind the times' view has provided a framework within which a whole new world can take shape. And it's one we can intuitively understand ourselves. Check  in his blog just how many old signposts there are: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/TheFloppyDiskMeansSaveAnd14OtherOldPeopleIconsThatDontMakeSenseAnymore.aspx

My point is that even those slightly over 45 like myself, can add value in a multitude of situations: society, families, an office, politics, social action, a football pitch (yes, I still play).

We can provide a framework within which others can operate better. We can still understand and contribute to it because we recognise the framework though we're perhaps not entirely sure how it actually works. We can also help it grow and develop so that all involved are able to add positively to the situation.

Maybe that's all a touch ethereal for a Tuesday morning, but please don't underestimate your ablity to add value from your wealth of experience and existing knowledge. You really can make a difference.

It doesn't mean you won't have to adapt and change and learn new things. But it does mean that your previous 40+ years are not wasted or redundant. Now stop reading this and go and add some value somewhere. Maybe start with your family!


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By Frank Hutton