Yesterday I had a young guy telling me the wonders of google self driving car, what it will do for everybody. As some of you know I am a bit of a cranky bastard but not totally off in clueless land yet so I decided to have a bit of fun. I said “you know I am in R and D, and really shouldn’t be telling you this but hey its just too cool not let you in on it”. I then told him in appropriate tech jargon a even better solution that had proven software, lower incremental cost and world wide availability. He was jazzed when he heard that it had the advantages of zipcar and no maintenance too. He was some what chagrined to learn I was describing a standard taxi cab, and the upgrade to a limo.
So what else when described in “new tech” terms sounds amazing but in fact is “old hat”? I offer you Up next from CES 2014 a carbon neutral, ultra low Db, solar powered lawn mower!
Yes, wisdom accrued through experience gives us in general a highly developed BS detector. The point that this little exercise was intended to do (but failed as it does challenge some warm and fuzzy notions) is that HOW you verbally (or in text) frame your design, product, idea (here to know as AH) has a huge impact on your audiences perception. You can take the route of dazzling with BS, you can try to actually communicate, but by and large BS SELLS. Imagine if you will my description of the lawn mowing device, but I wrapped it up in “new” design, even moving it into the new area of socially enhanced fitness devices. Lets expand and call it perhaps a haptic system with cardiovascular enhancement. Old or new, don’t forget your BS on presentation, but beware any old fart in the room…they will broad side you unless if we are not drooling while we are dozing off.
Yes, BS is BS…and BS is an age old concept. Hasn’t changed. Hasn’t gotten worse. Hasn’t 'gotten better. But one thing that does seem to stay the same, that as people get older, they tend to think they know more than the younger generation. But, somehow, progress continues. Stuff still gets done and the youth of the world eventually tunes out, because the BS that comes from the older generation is no different than the BS of the younger generation.
You see, zip, I believe that experience has a shit-ton of wisdom to empart on the next generation. However, as soon as it starts sounding like bitter old man syndrome, it gets tuned out. Some days, you empart fantastic pieces of wisdom here. Others, you sound nothing more than a bitter old man.
The reality, you don’t know better. You know different.
Know better, hence sometime appear bitter. and hey 41 ain’t young…your over the crest of the hill too . Here is the difference, selling works its the art of convincing others but works best on the uniformed or less experienced.
Ya, it’s the “know better” part that I can’t swallow. As I said before, you know different.
My first boss was 68 and I was 24. I was as green as you get right out of school. He had forgotten more about toolmaking than he was able to teach me over the course of my 5 years working for him. He was a fantastic guy.
But his problem, and ultimately the reason I left there, was that he stopped learning. He thought he knew better. New technology wasn’t as good as the old way. Youth were a bunch of ignoramuses. His mind closed more and more each day.
What it enlightened me to, was part of what I see happening in this thread. Yeah, there’s old stuff that was great, and we put new spins on old things to make them feel new or different. But there is just as much for me to learn from the past as there is from embracing the present.
So, maybe I am 41 and riding my flexible flyer down the hill…I never want to stop learning and think I know better.
I stay on top of tech every day, lots of things out there of interest in R and D land (big fan of room temp superconducting research) as well as business, ID, medical and physiology to name a few that I follow and integrate. To some extent everything is “old” because we as humans are not at the core that much different than we were 50k years ago. What drives us, appeals to us, is functionally unchanged what has changed (for some) is what we find objectionable. I find it hilarious however and some what sad is that same tricks that worked in China, Egypt and Rome (pick a date BC) still work now. Like I said, its all in how you spin it, still remember the first time I say a spinning class, thought WTF bunch of loons peddling like mad to the direction of a “expert” and going no where fast. I then thought about it for a moment, it was the spin that all fitness uses “fast, easy, fun” with a Sargent and peer pressure to keep you in line. The “spin” is not so much about tech, learning new stuff but remembering human nature and using it to get our desired result.
Mind if I poke my head in as a 21 year old soon-to-be grad?
I’ve been meeting up with (usually older) owners and managers of companies that work in fields that will be relevant to my post-grad interests (offering to buy them lunch usually works). My reasoning is that once I can get them to start ranting, I can learn a lot about their career paths, and accomplishments/failures. However, as I see with zippy, they’re very well versed in spin and can be very convincing about their beliefs, especially when you’re there specifically to learn from them. So I agree, to an extent, that my generation, including me, have slightly underdeveloped BS meters. The nice thing about talking to many of them is that they often contradict each other, and bash other firms (including ones I had just talked to a few weeks prior, which is pretty funny at times), that way I can sort out for myself what I think is right. The difference between those who are duped and those who aren’t is whether or not they go out and verify the claims of others.
As for the innovation aspect, I had one boss at a co-op job who would pick apart every single decision I made, which was somewhat frustrating at the time, but really helped me learn to justify my methods and make good decisions. However it also didn’t work the other way, if I suggested using a different and uncommonly used material for something, for example, and had properly researched and justified the decision, it would often still get shot down without an explanation.
When deciding whether to stick with what works, or push forward in the hope of better solutions, I don’t think that problem will ever be solved. Isn’t that the difference between political parties in most countries? Designers & their politics
We were having trouble with the material we were using, particularly with molding it to the shape we wanted it. I found one with very similar properties, that I had seen molded well in a few applications, and I though it might be applicable in this situation and solve our problem although I hadn’t seen it in this specific application before. As an intern, I obviously don’t claim to understand all of the cost and other restrictions, my issue with the situation was that it was dismissed so quickly and without explanation. I would have really liked to understand why it wouldn’t work for that application, if that was the case.
I wish I had that kind of sentiment. You guys make me really sad as I approach 40 this year. When I was 20 I was already living on my own and a I knew, that almost all grown ups were jerks and had no clue of the most important matters of life.
I remember how I really scared and anoyed the dads of some girls that I went out with
But today I am amased and scared of the many bad decisions and lack of guts that I showed myself when life became a little more complicated during the next 20 years…
Mirk: What I think happened is your boss and crew were in a state of “OH SHIT WE ARE HUMPED” and when your in that mode the problem solving extends way past the part or material, call it a triage. Is a mode where only 100% certainty of a beneficial outcome will be accepted even if a 90% one is offered by a Ghod.
Hmm, now that I think about it this way, it may have been part of the story. I don’t think it was a full blown triage situation, but they did have to work on separate parts of the process, and likely didn’t have time to review my work. Thanks for the explanation!
What I’ve heard from older designers and engineers many times over, is that they intentionally hire young people to push this kind of thing because as they get older they get more stuck in their ways. I figured I’d give a view of the same situation from the lower end, but I guess I’m lucky enough to not have an example after all