a generation of question-askers
I bought my mom an iPad recently. Last week, we went to dinner to celebrate her 50th birthday. We were sitting at Ecco in Midtown on a gorgeous night, and I was asking her how she was liking the new iPad. She remarked to me that she hasn’t sat down at her computer in at least 4 or 5 days, but she’s still afraid to take it with her anywhere because she “might break it.”
My mom is sort of afraid of technology. I find it frustrating to teach her how to use new pieces of technology. She grew up in a time and a place that didn’t encourage learning by doing. I grew up in a culture that supported playing, exploring, and trying things out without asking permission. Our paradigms of how we approach something are totally different.
When you think about it, Generation Y is a bunch of question-askers. We aren’t afraid of asking questions, because we’ve always had the tools to find the answers. When it came to computers and the internet, we very rarely asked our parents how to do something, because they knew as much about the technology as we did. As a result, we were allowed to explore, to learn, to break things if that’s what it took. We had a much higher tolerance for questioning, answering, and failing in our early lives, because it didn’t take time to try again.
I wish I could get Shan to write a guest post about success, failure, and startups. Michael Fairbanks said last weekend that to understand what you really should be chasing, ”fail frequently, fail fast, fail originally” - Gen Y is in the perfect place to do that. To take risks. It’s sort of exciting, given our backgrounds and upbringings, to think about the next 30 years of innovation in technology. To think about the next 30 years of thinking in human-centered design.
The iPad is a great device for Mom. Once she overcomes that initial barrier, that fear, it encourages her to play, to touch, to try (something that my generation has been doing by default all our lives). What’s the worst that could happen, I asked her - that you break it and we have to get a new one? It’s a low investment to learn to ask good questions and seek good answers.