I’d Be Great At This Job If It Was 1997

This is not an accident, this notion of ” If it could only be like it was…”

I see it in academia, in the media business, and I even hear it from friends, good friends at that.

What I see is people stuck in neutral, and it makes me a little sad.

There are people in every job class who might have been outstanding in their career. They might have won awards or been nationally recognized for something they did. These folks should be proud of their achievement. What happens to some is that this thing they used to do defines who they are today. I am a _________, they say.

Okay, you are. But what are you going to be next?

The Old School

I see presentations from professors extolling the virtues of constructing certain types of media texts (a text is not just the thing you type out on your phone –  it’s a term describing any type of media content)  but excluding their modern applications. I hear old radio DJ’s wishing they could just have their microphone back. I hear groans from displaced TV personalities, wondering why they just can’t go out with a big crew, stand in front of a camera, do a story and go home.

It’s the equivalent of showing someone how to catch a fish, but not how to sell it at the fish market.

The professors actually resist suggestions that they need to explain the “what’s next” part of the erudite but dated lectures they have doled out semester after semester. They recoil, as if to say  “How dare you! I have done this since…”

That’s the problem.

I was talking to a colleague a few days ago about how I struggle to keep up with the tidal wave of information on media content and distribution that breaks every day. I said, ” Well, I start on Flipboard…”

My co-worker cut me off.

“I’m not trying to flatter you but do you understand how many people have never even heard of Flipboard, much less the information inside it?”

His reaction made me wonder – am I doing enough? Are there professionals in my field who are light years ahead of me on these things?

Of course. There are a zillion of them. But that can’t stop me from trying to keep my skills fresh and my knowledge current. I can only do what I can do. But the sheer act of doing is the art of moving forward, progressing, mutating, reinventing.

The point here is that unless you are willing to evolve, you will have to accept the inevitability that the world is going to go on without you, and there’s a zero chance it’s going to stop so you can hop back on.

Creating traditional media content is only the beginning in 2013. It used to be the only thing one would do. Now it’s all about how you will propagate the stuff you just made. That’s the skill making some people very wealthy, successful – and famous.

“I don’t know about that social media stuff! I just read a teleprompter!” the old-schooler says.

Yes, apparently that is all you do.

I noticed you’re still looking for work…

Picture of John ScottJohn Scott is a media studies instructor and the career services manager at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University San Francisco. Check out John’s book, “Destination: Reinvention”, on sale in the Amazon bookstore. He finally got the audiobook finished – it’ll be out in a couple of weeks on Audible and iTunes.

Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.




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