We Are All Newbies Now

by Ted Esler

I was reading Kevin Kelly’s book, The Inevitable, in preparation for this month’s Leader’s Edge. There are many good ideas in the book, but this one stuck out to me. He writes:

“Technological life in the future will be a series of endless upgrades. And the rate of graduations is accelerating. Features shift, defaults disappear, menus morph. I’ll open up a software package I don’t use every day expecting certain choices, and whole menus will have disappeared. No matter how long you have been using a tool, endless upgrades make you into a newbie— the new user often seen as clueless. In this era of “becoming,” everyone becomes a newbie. Worse, we will be newbies forever. That should keep us humble. That bears repeating. All of us— every one of us— will be endless newbies in the future simply trying to keep up.”

– Kelly, Kevin. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (pp. 10-11). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This is one of the growing challenges of the future. How are you going to learn to learn? This is a different question than simply having a commitment to learn new things. It is about re-wiring your brain to take in information faster, with better filters and with good “storage skills.”

For many of us, we are stuck in old paradigms of learning based on reading. Kelly suggests that the new model of information delivery is the screen. The two are distinct and different. If you are a book reader, like me, you need to consider how to learn in new way using screens. The e-reader helps, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another ramification of this is for the orality movement. While we have been busy retooling our efforts around non-readers, a whole new form of learning has cropped up. Will those in oral cultures simply bypass the era of books and go right to the screen? Probably.

So, my fellow newbies, let’s continue to lean in on new ways of learning so that we can understand and communicate the Gospel well.

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