Monday, December 21, 2009

Notes from 12/18 OCA Meeting

Welcome to new member Carl Larson. Carl, a recent graduate from UW, last worked as a Marketing Assistant with NW Territorial Mint when, unfortunately, the company relocated to Nevada.

John Gaines, from Microsoft, was our guest speaker and covered the topic of "Going Digital."

- We first discussed "Digital Natives / Digital Immigrants," the difference between the two, and why we should be aware of each as we seek jobs in the digital realm. The term Digital Natives refers to students, K through college, who represent the first generations to be surrounded by and using the tools of the digital age: computers, video games, cell phones, digital music players, etc.

According Marc Prensky, who coined the phrase, they "think and process information fundamentally different from their predecessors." On the flip side (and that phrase, which all too well is a great example of the difference) is the group he calls Digital Immigrants. "Today's older folk were 'socialized' differently from their kids, and are now in the process of learning a new language." We're adapting to their environment and learning to teach, work, and communicate in new ways.

[Author's Note: I'm currently living this difference, with a 3-year-old who, this summer, asked why I couldn't play The Killers' "Human" video on my phone. (My kids don't listen to Elmo or The Wiggles. Give 'em Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, and yes, The Killers) "Because mommy has the iPhone, Tommy." And why I also have a 5-year-old home on holiday break who's not being subjected to game shows and soap operas, but rather can watch any number of PBS 'educational' cartoons recorded on the DVR. Because of examples like these, I'd also add "... a life of, and need for, instant gratification" to Prensky's dissertations.]

John shared links to two articles by Prensky, which while written in 2001 (with no reference to the advent of Google, Facebook or Twitter), provide a basis for understanding the digital chasm between these generations.
Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants - Part 2

- John and the group also discussed the importance of having an online presence: a blog, a web site / digital portfolio... something that literally demonstrates to hiring managers that you have the chops to put one together. John suggested as a great resource for putting together a personal web site.

- We also talked about our ability to build digital street cred with the relative ease of which we can now shoot, edit, and post videos. John did it. Landed a job with Microsoft. Are they directly related? No way to tell, but it helped. I brought up another example, where former OCA member, Arik Abel, did the same thing with an experiment he called "The Unemployed Gourmet." Now Arik is employed full-time at the user-generated advertising company, Zooppa.

- Lastly, John talked about the need to understand the real difference between Traditional and Social marketing. Traditional marketing creates a one-to-many relationship with the consumer, whereas social marketing involves the consumer in a many-to-many relationship. Companies (and job seekers) looking to leverage social media and marketing need to realize that it should be viewed as a communications strategy and not just a tactic.

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