Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thomas Friedman, lifelong learning & "curiosity quotient"

In recent months I've spent a chunk of nearly every day scanning for interesting stories to feed the Mission Catalyst Twitter stream. It now has more than a thousand followers. Seems like a good application of what we say on the website, that "our staff read and distill dozens of mission-oriented news sources so you won’t have to, while providing easy access so you can learn more."

Trolling for news so much is doing weird things to my brain; I think need to be more efficient with it and set up some boundaries, as well as prioritizing some less frenetic activities. My former way of life felt more balanced, but I should acknowledge that the housework and cooking that take up time I used to give to reading books and getting out (socially and for exercise) are also, in their own way, life-giving. Anything that takes me away from my computer from time to time is good.

News-sleuthing, though, is a good fit for my bent towards, "hey, have you heard about this?" I love good stories and ideas. Collecting and sharing information with others is part of what I feel like I was born to do. It's great to have a job that capitalizes on cultivating that curiosity and making those connections.

A New York Times editorial from Thomas Friedman says that increasingly, such skills will be required for every "decent job." Lifelong learners have an advantage; such habits help them be more flexible and resilient. That's because whatever we know and know how to do is going to become obsolete faster and faster.
Now, notes Craig Mundie, one of Microsoft’s top technologists, not just elites, but virtually everyone everywhere has, or will have soon, access to a hand-held computer/cellphone, which can be activated by voice or touch, connected via the cloud to infinite applications and storage, so they can work, invent, entertain, collaborate and learn for less money than ever before. Alas, though, every boss now also has cheaper, easier, faster access to more above-average software, automation, robotics, cheap labor and cheap genius than ever before. That means the old average is over. Everyone who wants a job now must demonstrate how they can add value better than the new alternatives.

When the world gets this hyperconnected, adds Mundie, the speed with which every job and industry changes also goes into hypermode. “In the old days,” he said, “it was assumed that your educational foundation would last your whole lifetime. That is no longer true.”
Friedman goes on to say:
How to adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the “right” education than less, that you will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology rather than ones that can be easily replaced by it and that we need everyone to be innovating new products and services to employ the people who are being liberated from routine work by automation and software. The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime. 
The rest of the article deals more with government and politics, but you can check it out here.

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