What’s Your Medium?
I have a confession to make: I was using the internet back in the early 1990’s to find dates. Not its original purpose, but I was a trailblazer! I (and probably many others) laid a course for the development of products like Match, E-Harmony, Tinder and the plethora of dating sites that soon followed the creation of the Internet. I was a member of a local Internet Relay Chat (IRC) group.
In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure it was there for the sole purpose of getting a date, but in reality, that’s what it did. I tell you this story not to share the details of my dating life, but to give you a little peek into my early curiosity of technology. In a world of DOS and 14.4 modems, I was inquisitive about the overlap between technology and humanity. I was hungry for knowledge about this new phenomenon. It didn’t take long before I took my first dot.com job and my curiosity became my career.
We all know the story, the internet, this concept that everyone “didn’t get” at the beginning, is now a core component of pretty much everything we do. It has transformed nearly every aspect of our daily lives.
Roll forward a couple of decades from those early days. The transformation of our daily routine continues. Technology and all that it touches is just spinning in a new direction. Along with these changes, we’re beginning to see many alarmist headlines about how jobs are going to vanish and machines taking over the world. We hear about machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrency, all of which will automate more and change the way we work. While much of this new technology future is a way off today Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce, uses Artificial Intelligence in his staff meetings. And we have a computer that can write poetry.
This makes one wonder, if all this new technology is going to start doing the significant portion of the work that exists today, then what will we be doing? (Remember that no industry or job is protected from change.) How will you incorporate new technology in your job? Do you need to be afraid that your role will transition to a machine?
The bad news is yes, your job today probably won’t exist. The good news is there will be new jobs, like the ones created by the internet. The question is: how do you understand them so you can be part of the new future? What can you do to prepare yourself?
I believe we all need to find our inner artist, our inner creativity.
Instead of being fearful of the headlines of the future, step back into what is innately human. Our ability to create, our ability to bring unrelated things together to make something new. Tip toward technology and play with it like an artist explores different mediums. Artists move from paint to pencil or piano to Piccolo finding new tools to devise and present their ideas. Have you heard about the guy who creates clarinets out of carrots?
When an artist experiments with a new medium, he learns, he tests, he makes mistakes, and eventually creates something amazing and powerful.
I’ve lost count of the new roles created by the explosion of the internet. I spent nearly twenty years creating roles for myself that never existed before. And my medium? It used to be the internet, today it’s you.
What’s your medium?