Say it now and say it loud: "I'm a newbie, and I'm proud!"Newbies: your tech unfamiliarity is just a first step on ladder of learning

Share |

I delivered a presentation today to the folks at Metro Vancouver (the level of government formerly known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District) on the social web and local government. It was a great group, with lots of lively discussion.

One of the members of the audience introduced herself to me as a "techno-peasant". It's a term I hear a lot from people, often with a rueful smile. But something about the term has always rubbed me the wrong way - and today I realized what it was.

The feudal system didn't offer peasants - or their children - very much in the way of advancement in their status: once a peasant, always a peasant. (The only way out was to either revolt, wait for history to take its toll on the status quo, or find some member of the nobility to whom you bore an uncanny resemblance, and then let Mark Twain step in.)

To me, "techno-peasant" conveys that same doomed sense of permanence. So I asked if she might prefer the term "newbie", which suggests that this is a temporary state, and that she's on a trajectory to becoming a, er, oldbie. She seemed delighted by the idea.

So I'll suggest that to you, too. Any time someone calls themselves a techno-peasant, grasp them by the shoulders, give them a bracing shake and tell them, "No, my friend. You're a newbie. And together, we will overthrow the hierarchy, close the digital divide and bring justice to the web!"

Let me know how that works for you.

And my thanks again to the folks at Metro Vancouver, and Greg Valou for inviting me.

Comments

Jodie says

March 31, 2008 - 4:41pm
"...grasp them by the shoulders, give them a bracing shake and tell them, "No, my friend. You're a newbie. And together, we will overthrow the hierarchy, close the digital divide and bring justice to the web!" i love you alex samuel. j

Jodie says

March 31, 2008 - 5:13pm
oh my gawd! how embarassing! what a quandry... will the moderator post my original comment where i made the gaffe and said i loved alex... before realizing that it was rob? do i now have to declare my equal love for rob? will this comment be posted? will internet justice be service? what to do? moderator... do the right thing. whatever that is?

Rob Cottingham says

March 31, 2008 - 9:48pm
Whoa... total newbie mistake, dude. (Cue rimshot.)

Robert Sanzalone says

April 2, 2008 - 5:18am

Actually, from the MANY years I've made those types of presentations in Vancouver, the USUAL meaning of "I'm a techno peasant" has been, "I don't really understand this technology stuff... and frankly, I don't care. But thanks for the GREAT presentation!". Always left me with a deep sigh.

No need to grab shoulders my friend. Simply smile back and say, "I'm glad you enjoyed it!"

Rob Cottingham says

April 2, 2008 - 11:12am

Oh, for sure - I've encountered that attitude plenty of times. But usually the word they use to describe themselves is "Luddite".

 

 

Leave a comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

More information about formatting options

Social Signal on...

RSS feedTwitterFacebookGoogle+

Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.

Join Newsletter

Rob on Twitter