Educating the Future of America


Put an ad on Craigslist for a Video Editor. Designed a book trailer for my novel, Reverb. Did the storyboard, got the clips, had the sequencing (timing), music and text—just needed a production wiz to put it all together. Ad read 'local vendors ONLY,' since I wanted to be able to work in person if necessary, and also limit response. For what I assumed to be a couple days work in Final Cut, I offered to trade a couple days of my services as a CD/AD/MarCom specialist in my Craigslist post.

Received over 30 responses to my ad in the first two days. Five percent wanted money, ranging from $75-$1,500 for their services. Eight-five percent were willing to produce my video on trade. What surprised me—10% who responded said they'd do my video for nothing. Student, or pro-something looking to change careers, they wanted portfolio pieces.

I know what you're thinking...'you get what you pay for,' or, 'crap pay, crap product'...bla, bla...

OK. Me, too. Until I looked at everyone's reels. For the most part, the difference was negligible between the editor who wanted $1,500, and those willing to put together the video for nothing. Not really so surprising, since professional consultant to savvy student, all were on the same Final Cut Pro software, and most were on MAC Towers or high-powered Apple laptops. All were certain, and in most cases it seemed to me they could handle my video with ease, and with direction provide exactly what I wanted.

Software is the great equalizer. Sort of...

Final Cut Pro is an amazing program, making it easy, or at least the learning curve within most's reach, to create virtually professional quality movies, clips, videos, with built-in libraries of filters and FX templates. Adobe's Premium Pro does pretty much the same thing for pc and windows users. In fact, total armatures like our 11yr old daughter now creates her class presentations on Corel Video Studio, and they are blow you away beautiful—educational and engaging, light years away from the color/cut and paste reports I did back in the day.

We have entered the Do-It-Yourself, Visual Age, and most of us—student to pros are creating and sharing visually. Technology has recently provided a myriad of tools for ages 5-105 for visual expression, at our fingertips. The market is responding to demand, and continually releasing new software made simpler and more user friendly.

Cool! (for creatives, at least, which is about 10% of the population).

The cost is jobs.

Used to be it took a unionized film and editing crew of many, a production company, extensive equipment and cameras behind the actors and action to make a movie or TV show. Now, some of the most popular films and series are produced with digital cameras, and edited with the a fore mentioned software by only a few behind the scenes.

Beginning in the late '80s, the ripple effect of the Mac and subsequent creative suite of software have wiped out many, once Advertising Industry staples:

—typographers
—lithographers
—layout artists
—pre-press production

and minimized demand for:

—photographers
—photography supplies, labs and manufacturing
—animators/illustrators
—art and drafting materials/supplies (CAD replaced drawing)
—freelance personnel
—sheet-fed press (replaced by digital printing)

I'm sure I'm missing many jobs that vanished with the advent of the Mac and Adobe Creative Suite of tools— many more than the opportunities that arose with electronic publishing, such as the digital press.

In manufacturing, beyond the cheap emerging labor markets, robots now build most car components that people used to build. Restrict outsourcing or not, manufacturing will never be like it was—most of those lost jobs are not coming back. And technology will eliminate more and more labor intensive tasks as it continues to get smarter, and we teach it to perform a wider range of functions.

Retail; consumer goods—better expect spending to go down, since fewer jobs means less discretionary cash for consumers, especially for the middle class. Advances in technology will hit the middle class, the labor worker, the office admin, first, and hardest as their jobs disappear.

The disparity between the wealthy and middle class is growing rapidly, reflected by the poor holiday sales last year with so many out of work, the unemployment rate made artificially lower from those who've used their benefits and have given up looking for a job.

It is not possible, nor do I wish to go back in time to preserve jobs/careers, or restrict our advances. I love technology. Big fan! In fact, we live a digital life. Laptop are always on, and mostly open. At any time, any member of our family is actively involved in creating something—my DH: AI software modeled after the human brain; I'm writing, designing or marketing something; kids are researching online, doing homework at assigned websites, writing reports or creating presentations.

In today's world, it is not enough to simply edit video anymore, or administer work-flow, or put together cars, cell phones or computer components when huge amounts of people globally can do it as well, and are willing to do it for little* or nothing**.

Manufacturing to civil, or customer service administration—simple, repetitive jobs are no longer the foundation that supports the U.S. middle class, and a strong economy. Ours is weak right now, and will continue to be weak, grow the chasm between rich and not, unless we change the focus of our education, and fast.

It is imperative our kids become technologically adept early on, and continue to learn and stay current with advances in creative tools. The families in our neighborhood can afford the latest technology, and ours is continually exchanging knowledge on working with it, but this isn't true of most East Oakland households. This requires K-12 teachers to college profs to understand and be working with the current technology [at least] in their field of study, to then teach it. Most can't/don't. Many classrooms across the country are still without enough computers or tech support to teach even the basics.

We all have access to information about anything now via the most powerful communication tool humanity has created to date—the internet. Both my son, now 8th grade, and daughter, 5th grade, have been required to work online for school assignments since the 3rd grade. Neither have had any instruction on internet etiquette, protocol, or security. Viruses have wiped the family laptop four times, so far, with my son or daughter clicking school assigned links. 

The jobs of tomorrow hinge on the education we give our kids today. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) must be taught early on, and be the focal point of education today, but it's not. Introducing our kids to the amazing tools available, then teaching how to use them to realize a vision isn't enough. We must also instill in them the desire to create—explore and then develop their own ideas.

The U.S. has always perceived itself a country of creators, though not en-mass. Mostly we've been a nation where a few create and the rest of us market, or manufacture the creations. We need to switch that around—more creators than production, as electronics, robots and apps will continue to perform more of our menial (and not so menial) tasks.

We, The People, must become a nation of innovators, developers, technologists; leaders in science, medicine, global sustainability—climatically, economically and socially. Again it falls on our teachers to ignite a creative spark in their students, as parents are often too busy working, or don't understand the current [and future] job environment—that to compete globally their kid's skill set must stand out from the masses, which is now...well, the world.


*Enterprising young entrepreneur, Steve Jobs, exploited this trend by sending Apple's manufacturing overseas—both workers and materials cheaper in China for the same [or better] production of iProducts.

**Craig Newmark, Craigslist founder, began the trend of giving users the 'ability' to be free admins to monitor his site's content.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kids, and their parents, have to understand that they can't just drop out of school if it cramps their style, or that school is not a party, or the next football game. School is to prepare kids for functioning as adults. Maybe it's a lot to ask of children to understand that they are going to grow the fuck up, so the issue rests on their parents to ensure that their children CAN function as adults, and to ensure that their children understand what is coming.