I’ve recently been toying with the idea of writing a blog called “The 50-Something Millennial.” My premise is that the characteristics that define the millennial generation—connectedness, social engagement, digital nativity, impatience with the status quo, desire to make a difference in the world, and so on—are not the exclusive right of people born at a certain time.
I see these characteristics as more a matter of attitude, curiosity, and empowerment than of chronology. I planned to argue that blending these traits with the acquired wisdom of age produces an even more powerful force for change—in that 50-somethings have the added advantage of perspective gained by having lived through the transition from the analog world to the digital word, instead of simply having been born into the Internet Age.
I was hoping to use myself as an example, albeit a feeble one. Then I met Don Tapscott, who, although he’s 60-something, proves my point in spades.
In 1995, the year the Internet began to take off, he wrote a book called the Digital Economy that presaged the digital revolution that has come to pass over the past two decades. Then he wrote Growing Up Digital, which essentially described the millennial generation before they ever came of age. Now he’s working on a project called Global Solution Networks, which proposes using multi-stakeholder, self-governing global networks of individuals and institutions to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems. Talk about making a difference.
As part of our Conversations on the Future of Business series, I had the opportunity to speak with Don about how these global networks are beginning to change how big problems get solved and how individuals are moving from being passive recipients to active participants. I don’t want to give away too much, but some of the examples he points out are Galaxy Zoo, Kiva, Khan Academy, and CrisisCommons. Take a look and you’ll see why Don is the ultimate 60-Something Millennial.
Coming soon: A Conversation with Nolan Bushnell, father of the gaming industry, founder of Atari, and Steve Jobs’ first boss.