I witnessed two generation gaps in my lifetime: the famous one that made a mess of the 60s, and the computer generation gap that rendered half of the skilled oldsters unemployable. These were traumatic events and I never expected to see their like again in my lifetime, but now I'm not so sure. I look into the turbulent mist of my crystal ball, and I see the glimmer of one more gap: the gap between babies being born now, and their Gen Y/Millennial Generation parents. Let me explain.
People now in their twenties grew up with computers. They're not strong on traditional knowledge, but they do know the current programs, and these days that's the key to getting jobs. You've gotta give it to them, they spent the time and effort necessary to learn some pretty esoteric stuff.
And I do mean esoteric. My how-to-learn Photoshop book is 776 pages long, and most of it is dry as moth wings. I grant you that nobody's expected to know everything that's in the book, but you have to know the relevant parts of several programs, and it all adds up.
For an artist in the animation industry, you should know parts of Photoshop, Flash, Illustrator, After Effects and Toon Boom or Maya, and it wouldn't hurt to know a bit of Final Cut, Painter and a host of plug-ins. That's a big investment of time, especially when you consider that you're also expected to know how to draw, color, animate, tell stories, act characters and make cinematic cuts as well.
And that's not all. If you want to get a feel for the intuitive work-arounds that make programs usable then you better spend a certain amount of time playing online games, doing Facebook, file-sharing, resume and web site creation, iTunes, iPhone, Garageband, Word, office networking, digital camera stuff, et al. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it!
The point I'm trying to make is that if you're 20 something then spending a LOT of time with programs is mandatory. If you're a student there's no time for English lit, economics, history, culture, story telling, cartooning and all that. Culture for you is watching The Comedy Channel, if you can find time for it.
Now comes the part about the generation gap. The Millennials and Gen y'ers who are so steeped in program manipulation are going to be in for a big surprise because their kids won't have any desire to learn programs at all. Babies being born now won't need to learn programs. They'll simply tell the computer what they want in vernacular English and the computer will do it. Do you doubt it? Think about it....
Think about the Wulfram (spelled right?) vernacular browser that's on the drawing table now, or all the language recognition and fuzzy logic improvements you've been hearing about. Think about the nano processors people are working on. THAT'S the world your kid is going to grow up in! People will still generate and manipulate programs, but that'll be a niche activity, something only specialists do.
I envision an artist in 2025 making a picture (maybe holographic or virtual) like this: "Computer, give me a cottage like the one in Disney's 'Snow White, ' only give it more of an old master look. Yeah, something like what you just put up only with more contemporary color...and change the shutters to something more flamboyant. No, not that...try a few skewered old Swiss designs. And how 'bout a thatched roof? No, a thicker one. The thatch should look like it was just put on..." It'll all work something like HAL worked in the Kubrick movie. You won't need to know the programs, that's what the computer'll be for.
For your kids generation the content of media will be the big deal, not the process. Where will their parents fit in? Well.....they won't. They really won't. Parents will have spent their entire youth learning programs, and that way of thinking will be completely obsolete, at the consumer level anyway. Unlike their parents, kids will be romantic and literary. They'll ransack history for ideas and inspiration. They'll regard their parents as stupid. God help us, they'll have more in common with their hippie grandparents, if any are still around.