Shifting Paradigms

by Sachin Balagopalan on June 18, 2007 · 1 comment

Not a day goes by when you don’t hear or see Facebook, mentioned on the blogospehere or for that matter in the mainstream media. The frenzy around Facebook is reminiscent of another so called paradigm shift not too long ago when all of a sudden searching the internet was the coolest thing to do on the planet. If you didn’t Google you were relegated to the bottom of the “coolness” ladder. I agree with Michael Parekh there is indeed a sense of deja vu all over again with the Facebook phenomenon. Those of us in our late thirties and early forties have been around the “paradigm shift block” a few times and for some of us there is a sense of excitement in the air and I dare say, watching this phenomenon from the “sidelines” is just as good as being a net native in the midst of this shifting pattern. By the way I don’t get the whole labeling thing by Fred Wilson as he mused “The Age Question”. I mean I grew up reading newspapers and magazines so that makes me a “net immigrant” and not a net native? It’s a load of rubbish if you ask me.

At the risk of sounding like a relic, I can remember back in college in the late eighties and early nineties it was pretty difficult to find a vacant VAX terminal (those humongous monochrome thingies!) in the computer labs on campus between 7:00 pm and midnight. Yes, the students were busy chatting with their friends on IRC or sending/reading emails via the VAX email server. So when I look at Facebook or any other social networking sites I don’t really see anything conceptually new as far as behavioral patterns go. As far as I can remember we have always used some form of technology to stay in touch “socialize” with our cohorts. However over the years there has certainly been a technology shift and the same concepts and ideas from yesteryear have been repackaged and readjusted to fit the technology du jour.

The Dave Winer vs Fred Wilson feud that’s been all over the blogosphere this weekend brings to light the fact that shifting paradigms are indeed driven by the younger generation but it is the older folks who have the experience and the fortitude to take an idea or a startup and build it into a viable business. It’s not by sheer coincidence that people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates surround themselves with smart young people. These young visionaries are the fuel that drives the veterans. Young people have the ability to dream up ideas because they are not inhibited by knowledge and experience. The more knowledge you posses the more analytical you become because you’re then prone to crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s and in the process loosing sight of the idea at hand. When you’re young and inexperienced you don’t have that “problem” which probably explains why the 20 somethings are usually the ones that drive these paradigm shifts.

At the end of the day does it really matter who invents the new paradigms? Maybe it does for some but as far as I’m concerned we’re all beneficiaries and I get fired up just the same.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

oldvic 06.18.07 at 3:34 pm

Interesting. The children play with the toys, but it takes a grown-up to use them properly.

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