Work 2.0

“Every generation needs a revolution.” – Thomas Jefferson.

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately.

I have an 11-year-old who brings homework from school to be done on the internet.

I am doing a masters, distance learning, at Robert Gordon University after a long break from education. I was amazed at the transformation social media has allowed to happen in our universities.

I am responsible for my council’s social media presence.

The quickening pace of all this excites me, yet scares me.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this over the last few years and a recent presentation at Tayside Police made me unravel all my research into some semblance of order so I’ve translated my Prezi into a blog.

The internet and social media are changing everything – the way we consume news (we write it ourselves), the way we shop (we review before we buy), the way we meet our partners, the way we look after our health (NHS24 before a doctor’s appointment), the way we bring up our children (MumsNet before phoning mum), the way we learn, and the way we work.

When I first saw Shift Happens  four years ago, it blew my mind.  When I watch the 2011 version it still blows my mind and makes me realise that pretty soon I’ll feel like my gran did when cashlines were invented.

By age 38 most people have had 10-14 jobs, half have been in post for less than five years. There is little company loyalty these days – people pick up skills, learn and move on.

What sometimes feels like information overload for me in normal for my daughter but it is having an effect on how they process information. Jamie Bartlett and Carl Miller’s research for their paper Truth, Lies and the Internet shows that our children are beginning to look at information, not just online, more superficially, their research is less deep and they are more likely to be convinced by a well-designed web page than one  from a trusted source but not well designed.

Digital literacy needs to be taught in schools but not in IT. Digital literacy goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking which should be taught across the syllabus. Both should also be taught at home, along with internet safety, but that’s a whole other blog.

Social media is all about collaboration and our children are used to this. It does backfire though. David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara, who wrote – power, poverty and the digital divide are both economics professors and have noticed the same piece of work being handed in by 30 students who took collaboration a bit too far.

Not only is social media changing the way our children learn and the way we work, it’s raising expectations about the hardware we use in the workplace. Now I don’t know about you but when I come to work I go through a technology downgrade. Our PC is a year old running the latest version of Ubuntu with along with the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. We have a netbook, and two smart phones between us. My daughter has an iPod. I come to work to a PC running Windows XP and IE8 and the only reason we have IE8 is so we can use our CMS – most other public sector organisations are still on IE6. The only reason I have access to social media site is because it’s now part of my job, the majority of employees are Websensed.

Just last month Cisco published their New Workplace Currency, research they undertook with students and young employees the world over.

Young people entering the workplace expect to be able to choose the devices (note the plural) they use.

At interview most will ask about social media policy and if they aren’t happy with the answer they’ll think twice about taking the job.

If they don’t have access to social media at their desk, they’ll use their own device to get on anyway.

And here’s the real Big Brother bit.

If Personnel and IT departments thought it through they’d open social media up to every employee. It’s easy to track who’s doing what, who’s using it properly and who’s abusing it. Let’s face it, that’s easier to manage than the person who wanders the building with a piece of paper in their hand pretending they are busy.

Older generations have always played catch-up but we’re at a tipping point with technology and social media. If you add tech-savvy to life experience and the ability to communicate well you get a pretty powerful mix. To see it at its best read some Seth Godin, Euan Semple or Dan Slee.

Oh, and maybe send some links to your Personnel and IT departments.


  1. carolynemitchell · December 19, 2011

    Cheers for the link – I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about digital equality for a good few years now and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better 😦

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