The ‘ Age-ism & Employment’ topic gets a lot of activity. Am hoping that the discussion leads to solutions.

The industry and marketplace are driven by assumptions that ‘youth knows best’ – especially in an arena which brands itself (trendily) as Design. It ain’t necessarily so, but you still may want to stock up on Just For Men.

I blog a lot on LinkedIn – mostly on ‘professional domain’ topics. For me, that means ‘user experience’.   Am tempted to blog about “age-ism” – but am also reluctant to reveal that I’m “that old guy”.  Interesting …

Here are a few thoughts on the topic:

Social media plays well with “opinionated knowledge”.

Bloggy commentary takes the data factoids (with which we are inundated) to another level … by providing usable context.

Crowdsource Experience

“Been there / Done that” doesn’t need to be dismissive.

It provides guidance.  Mentoring is now valued – if not richly compensated.

Publishing is one of the ways us elderly folks can “leverage our experience”. The value is implicit. The next challenge is to establish a price and a viable marketplace.

Stealth marketing of wisdom

The opinions I publish are linked to practical examples. Which are … on my website.

I maintain the repository of my opinions and analysis on my WordPress blogs, focusing on three main areas:

the Craft – focus on Usability, UX, UI

Ideas – broader professional topics (socialNet, “design thinking”, metaphors, etc.)

the Archive – oldStuff that’s … more relevant than you might expect

I’ve also been blogging a bunch on Quora. Not necessarily a whole lot of Views, but the ones I get often have value – in the sense that they lead to relevant connections.  It’s even more satisfying than on the “professional network” of LinkedIn, which has – sadly – compromised its ability to network effectively among Groups of colleagues.

Scarcity has little value in the Information Economy

Too much experience often comes across as “set in one’s ways” and “not flexible nor trainable”.

Yet “cranky and opinionated” works for me.

Embrace the stereotype!

Please feel free to ‘borrow’ (You can’t really ‘steal’ information).

I hope you’ll also ‘reference’ (i.e. acknowledge the source) and – most importantly –link to it.  After all …

Cross-pollination is the currency of the information economy

… especially in a social networking environment.  I promise that I will try to do the same.

Knowledge Management mines the wisdom of the commons.

Does this imply a re-valuing of the “hidden gold” in older, more experienced workers?  Many senior people consciously move into the educational  & mentorship arenas later in their career.  For many, this “volunteerism” is a return to the idealistic and communitarian profile of your youth.  It will be interesting to see if long-term sustainability is included in the computation of ROI.  (Yoicks.  Sounds like socialism…)

Labeling transition:  from ‘junk shop’ to ‘collectible’ to ‘vintage’ to ‘antique’ … Leverage the Attribute

Object Lesson

As ever, the how/why do I do it? issues will justify your presence:

  • What do you bring to the table in the way of skills, talents, and experience?
  • How do you intend to employ them?
  • Can you make a convincing usability argument for whatcha got?

Cranky Old Guy Story:

I did not get into the Usability Arena myself until my early 30’s. I had previous careers as

  1. an old schoole pencil & paper artist and animator
  2. new media & video junkie
  3. early digital interactive ‘before we called it the web’
  4. transition (this was about when the label “UX” became aThang)
  5. finally the Web gets Real

It’s just to say that the enduring issues are value and quality. And remember that Usability is more than just shallow Design. What is UxP?

Of course – Some (quite a few, actually) recruiters and employers will pass on you because you’re not young/‘fresh’/naive/cheap enough.

But you probably didn’t want to work with them anyway.


© The Communication Studio LLC