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Oh, Those Backward, Bemused Elders

[IMPORTANT NOTICE: Friday 19 October in the northern hemisphere is the day to post your greetings for Olive Riley's 108th birthday and I hope everyone will join in to help make it a joyous blogosphere bash for Olive. There is more information about the celebration and how to take part here.]

Following Monday’s snit, Crabby Old Lady was content to sit back in her rocker for awhile. That is, until Madame Levy of La Vache Qui Lit alerted her to an offensive blog post.

Ageism in general and age discrimination, particularly in the technology industry, are so commonplace and such an old story that Crabby Old Lady doesn’t bother to comment on them much anymore. But when it comes from an uber-geek who some consider a person of influence in the tech world, one who boasts he has reached the limit (5,000) of the allowed number of "friends" on Facebook, Crabby must speak up.

Robert Scoble, who at 42 cannot be considered in the bloom of youth, blogs at the eponymous Scobleizer. On Sunday, he recounted his visit to a block party where he met some of his neighbors for the first time.

"Most of the people in my neighborhood are older. In their 60s and 70s,” writes Scoble. “…it was interesting trying to explain what I do. 'I have an Internet video show.' No, not a porn show. Heh!

"Some of my neighbors couldn’t quite rap (sic) their heads around the fact that I could send video of them around the world from my cell phone. They had heard of Facebook or MySpace but I had to explain over and over how Kyte worked. They acted like they had met someone from the future."

Before she goes on, Crabby Old Lady wants you to know that it is likely Mr. Scoble would be just another blogger among millions except for three years he spent at Microsoft as a “technology evangelist” which gave him enough Silicon Valley street cred to be considered a member of the technorati with a blog The Economist reports is read “religiously” by geeks.

Geeks are almost by definition 20-somethings, and this is the condescending claptrap Scoble gives them to read about elders:

“...I shouldn’t make all my neighbors sound like Luddites. They are very educated and well traveled people who’ve done interesting things with their lives but it’s interesting to see just how far ahead those of us who live in the tech echo chamber are. One common thing? They all have heard about Facebook and are wondering what they’d do on it. It really pisses me off I can’t add them to Facebook. So, I told them to sign up for Twitter instead and I’d answer their questions there.”

Right - answer their questions in 140 characters or fewer. The entire post reeks of such superciliousness. Scoble was at Gnomedex this year, but Crabby thinks he must have blown off her presentation about elders and technology which was received by others, some much younger than Scoble, with enthusiasm and who, Crabby doubts, would be capable of writing anything as patronizing.

According to Wikipedia, Scoble learned computers literally from the inside out at his mother’s knee. It’s no big deal to be “far ahead” of unanointed elders when you were practically born with a mouse in your hand. Teaching oneself computing from scratch with no one to help and succeeding, as so many elders Crabby Old Lady knows have done – now that’s an achievement.

Crabby wonders what Scoble’s are, and if it has occurred to him that Facebook, MySpace and Kyte are only this year's web buzzwords to be left behind by something new or better next year. They are hardly requirements for being technology literate and certainly not a reason to assign a sense of superiority such as his to oneself.

Not that Crabby Old Lady is going soft in her old age, but for a moment she considered that youth - and Mr. Scoble - should be forgiven their lapses in light of the ageist culture they grow up in. Then she remembered that Scoble is 42, old enough to have gotten over himself.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Pat Temis continues the story of the saga related to buying a home in Turkey in Part 2 of A Dönüm Will Do.]


Ah, yes! Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I'm not sure many people "get over themselves" much before age 60, if ever, these days. Too bad!

I know one thing - that at 61 I'm quite often more computer savvy than many people half my age. It isn't age dammit - its education, money, personal history - all these things make people more capable of doing some things than others. I'm sure there are lots of things that Mr Scoble can't do - spelling seems to be one of them but I'm sure there are others. I look forward to meeting him so I can be as patronising to him as he is to others...

20 years. That's all it will take for Scoble to join the 'in crowd' and learn what we have learned...that we all age! Some do it gracefully. I don't think Scoble has the talent for that.

I'm 67 and my children call me first when they have problem with their computer...age has nothing to do with that while interest has everything to do with it. It's something that I enjoy doing. I didn't get a helping of 'dumb' with my first Social Security check. Must. Stop. I could rant forever on this subject.

Yes, getting over himself has been recommended by many of his followers (not fans.)

There is a nugget of truth - propeller heads sometimes forget that not everybody (even much younger people) are into tech stuff.

I'm sure you have run into younger people who really aren't sure what a blog is!

I think you did a good job of pointing out his ageism.

I will be surprised if he doesn't show up here and comment.

Yes, I am one of the older people in the world. And like someone said I bet their are things Mr. Can't Get Over Myself. cannot do for instance I can swim a mile in 40 minutes, can he do that, I bet not. So everyone has their expertise and its best to live and let live.

I got my first computer in 1998 at the age of 70.

I have four children who would have been very willing to help me learn how to use it but they all live in different states and not near me.

So, I had to teach myself and I have done a fair job of it. Sure, I made mistakes and conked out the computer a couple of times, but one of the first, and most valuable, things I learned was how to restore the computer to an earlier date. Then I could foul things up a little and set the clock back to last Tuesday when all was OK and start over again.

I am an amateur photographer and have hundreds of photos stored on my computer and have learned to save money on glossy photo paper and expensive ink by putting the pictures on either a CD for computer or a DVD for Television and give them to the people involved and let them print the ones they like best.

Now the kids ask ME how to make CDs and DVDs.

So, get over yourself,Robert Scoble.
You,who have had a dozen people tutoring you every step of the way on your computer.

You should have listened to Ronni when you had the chance at Gnomedex.You might have learned something........

First of all, he used "interesting" twice in one sentence. Secondly, if he learned computers at his mother's knee, does that make her a senior geek? Yup, he shouldn't have blown off your seminar. Very shortly he will be one of us and perhaps he will be considered "interesting."

I love this post. I attended a conference (BlogHer) where Scoble was present, and he was to me a shabbily dressed interloper among hundreds of fabulous women bloggers. I have tried to read his blog, and it is almost indecipherable, not for the geeky content but for the almost unintelligable communication style (grammar, spelling, structure, syntax, among other factors). To me, such "writing" is often an expression of contempt for others who just don't "get it" on first pass. Just a note, lest anyone diss anyone at any age (and this doesn't happen at TGB!): "Some of my best friends" who are also geeks are younger than I by one or more decades. They are my heros: wonderful, educated, honorable, bright, enthusiasts about new media and how it can be deployed to serve our human needs to connect and to communicate/share/learn/teach. The odious (really pathetic) character flaws of Scoble are his and of his sycophants, not the universe of tekkies of any age.

It wasn't one of my better posts.

Stereotyping anyone is bad and I did it here.

Douglas Engelbart is 82 and he invented the mouse and menu systems.

This is the first time anyone Crabby Old Lady (or Ronni) has taken to task for engaging in age bias actually acknowledged what they’d done - in private or public.

Nice of you to do so, Robert – and Crabby loves the mention of Engelbart.

Good reply Robert. I'm impressed.

There are people of all ages who are technically minded and, likewise, technophobes come in all age-groups as well - with the possible exception of children who all want to play computer games and use computers at home and at school.
I consider myself a bit of a computer beginner but have had loads of help from a chap several years older than me. He has put an interesting header on my blog and keeps finding pictures to make the posts more interesting. Html is still a mystery to me but he has certainly cracked it. Check him out here:

Ah-ha. He posted an apology. Nice! So I won't pile on. I just wanted to point out that you can't blame young uns for having a shorter historical perspective. They simply don't have the years behind them to see the longer view. Computers have been around long enough so that early adopters are getting old. I learned my first programming language, FORTRAN, at a summer class at the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. Watching the technology grow over the decades has been a fascinating ride. It reminds me of an old techie joke. Two old nerds are reminiscing about the early days. One says "We used to program in ones and zeros." The other says, "You had zeros?"

Jerry Waxler
Memory Writers Network

Oh what a difference it makes when someone is gracious enough to admit an error. Thank you, Robert!!
I took a magazine columnist to task recently for a piece of blatant ageism. She apologised immediately. However, she added "..but it was tongue-in-cheek". (As though that justified it). So I wrote again and explained how ageism is often disguised as humor. I sent her 'tongue-in-cheek' paragraph back to her, paraphrased so it was about skin color rather than age. This time, she really got it. And apologised again.
We just have to keep plugging away.

And here's another bubble that I think needs bursting.
I still have a teenager at home, and I'm just as - often more - tech/web savvy. It's a matter of interest, need and accessibility, not age.

And here's another bubble that I think needs bursting.
I still have a teenager at home, and I'm just as - often more - tech/web savvy. It's a matter of interest, need and accessibility, not age.

Interesting his only claim to fame is 3 years at MS. Sounds as if he was a loser even with them because I live 'down the way' from the Redmond campus and know quite a few of the brainiacs there - most are intelligent, civil and pleasant people to be around. Plus, the ones I know have been with MS for a minimum of 5 years - so what makes this boor special?

A question for all of you tech-savvy people.....
Does anyone know of a good, relatively inexpensive service that will transfer slides to CDs? I'm afraid that my slides are fading quickly and time is of the essence.
Thank you! :-)

Okay, while we're on the subject, I'd love recommendations for a site where I can upload a large (~52mb) video for online sharing. I make video collages of my granddaughters, add music backgrounds, etc. but cannot share without CD/DVD burning and snailmailing. There are tons of pay sites advertised out there but it would be nice to find the "right" one on the first try.

Ronnie, my apologies for hijacking your thread - please feel free to take this down if you want. Maybe at some point you might consider adding a tech area where we could share such tips and info? I think collectively we probably have a huge amount of technology wisdom and I for one would be happy to share what I know with others...

This was just posted at the Blog Herald. I looked all over the Amazon entry and couldn’t find any mention of reading level “appropriate for readers over 50″

Maybe Mr Scoble could enlighten the reviewer.

Tom Masters’ new book aimed at making blogging simple for “gray generation” A new book aims to take the pain out of setting up, writing, and maintaining a blog, particularly for the over 50s age group,

i find that ask metafilter is a great place to get tech answers quickly. although some of the users can be snarky the majority of users are helpful and knowledgeable.

don't believe for one moment that scoble was apologising. he was just exercising damage control. he also moderates his comments.

that particularly for the over 50s review was particularly distressing...

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