You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter," he told the students. "And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.He's right about one thing-- the increase in knowledge flows is absolutely putting pressure on our country and our democracy. He's wrong about the solution and about information becoming a distraction. Dealing with knowledge flows is an essential skill going forward. Those that learn to thrive in these new information rich environments will prosper. Those that choose to hide will be left behind.
I'm currently reading The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion by John Hagel and John Seely Brown. I highly recommend that the President (and his speech writers) read this book.
Push mindsets and practices are tightly grooved to a world where knowledge stocks mattered and knowledge flows were at best a peripheral event. We must accelerate a shift to a very different mindset and to practices that treat knowledge flows as the central opportunity and knowledge stocks as a useful by-product and key-enabler.We old folks cut-our-teeth in a push world. That world is rapidly collapsing. Telling the next generation to turn off their information appliances and to disengage from their knowledge flows is doing them a disservice. Learning to live in the flow is the new imperative. This is the edge where value is being created. We can only hope those young people at Hampton University were busy reading their feeds on their smart phones, and that they filtered-out the President's bad advice.