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Old 11-29-2010, 07:18 AM
Nino Nino is offline
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Default The Power of Learning

These are some excerpts from some material that I’ve been writing for other venues. I believe it will help many in the long and for some often tedious learning process.

What I’m about to say has nothing to do with VJ, it has to do with production in general regardless what direction you intend to take. It has to do with knowledge and skills and the ability to make a good living.

But before I go any further, this is copyrighted material and any unauthorized reproduction or re-posting is prohibited.

For what I’m about to say about 90% of readers will think that this is pure BS and will reach into the fridge for another beer. This expected response is right on target as from all those trying to make money with a video camera only 10% are capable of making a good living with their skills.

Where you place yourself in this profession is all up to you. You and no one else have the power of your own success or your own failure.

When I went to art and photography schools, and this was before most here were born, our method of learning was very different. Of course we had no web and the available resources were limited, but what we had was the best resource ever created, ourselves.

We didn’t get to touch a camera until our third year. The first two years we spent it learning about images. We were taught from the very start that the equipment, whatever they might be, a brush and canvas, a pencil and paper or a still or film cameras were only recording instruments to transfer into something visible the work that was created in our brains.

We had to study famous painting, photographs and films. Based on the disciplines of arts that we learned we had to take that work of art apart piece by piece in order to understand how it was put together. With a minimum of equipment that most of the time consisted of window light, white sheets for bounce or diffusion and black cloths to absorb light, we then had to recreate that work.

We were never told how to do it, we had to find out on our own how it was done, it was a constant mental exercise. We were taught to go thru a process of accepting and rejecting a number of techniques and using series of logics until we found those that created those masterpieces. What we were unknowingly doing was going thru a problem solving process of accepting and rejecting numerous techniques until we found the right ones, and of course along the way as a process of elimination we were learning about all the different techniques.

This is exactly the process that our brains go thru when solving problems, this is with everything we do and not just with photography or imaging. It was always a mental exercise. We were never spoon-fed information because even back then there was always the fear that if the brain looses the ability to look for solutions, just like any other parts of our bodies that doesn’t get used, it gets weaker.

In this modern society most have become passive recipients of the information that our brains need to solve problems, this instead being and active participants in the creation and understanding of problem solving.

Most people today do not even try or are incapable to search or formulate the answers, most don’t know how, they google it. They can only function if information are spoon-fed to them.

There’s a misguided need of instant gratification in a profession that success is achieved by knowledge. Knowledge is bits of information that our brains were able to acquire and store year after year, problem solving is basically a function of our brains cross referencing that massive amount of information. If the information is not there then there’s little or nothing to cross reference with.

Advancement in equipment technology do not create a photographers like many today would like you to believe. Better technologies is nothing more that additional tools in our arsenal but no individual tool is ever indispensable to perform our job. It’s the applications that our knowledge can do with new technologies that create quality work.

In the history of creating images this is the worst that it has ever been as far as quality, knowledge and intelligence goes. This is also the worst that has ever been as revenue generating for most of those who decide to make a living with their cameras. This is the curse for those who become dependent and allow technology to do the work for them, they can no longer efficiently generate their own thinking process. Creativity can not be taught, its a brain function, it’s a problem solving process based on the information stored in our brains. The more information the better.

This is why those that believe that the instant gratification of achieving in weeks what should take years are only cheating themselves out of opportunities to learn, because once the individual is convinced that he no longer needs to learn the brain will stop looking for information.

Creativity is not just making beautiful pictures. Creativity is resourcefulness. Is the ability to make things happen. Engineers, doctors, financial people, etc. They all can be creative in their own field. It so happen that our field is imagery.

Creativity is not a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday brain function, you either are creative or you are not. You can’t turn creativity on and off like an alarm clock.

You can hand ten photographers the same equipment, give them the same assignment in the same location and be assured that they will all comeback with different results, some will be excellent and some will be very poor. This is because all ten brains will use different methods to solve the same problem, and the quality of the result will depend on what information (learning) is stored in each brains and how it was used.

As I said many times before, the camera is nothing more that a dumb instrument that will record whatever the photographer’s ability is to create. The image do not take place in the camera, it takes place in our brains first, then we use our technological knowhow to transfer those pieces of information into a recording instrument.

There are no short cuts in learning. Learning is an ongoing process needed to achieve a high level of proficiency and skills in any business. In this capitalistic society of ours the reward for our skills is of how comfortable of an income we are capable of generating and the level of success and proficiency is measured by the size of the checking account. Meaning that our skills are valuable to someone else, and the more valuable they are the better the compensation will be.

By “high level of proficiency” I mean the ability of doing everything well throughout the entire scale of production and with every available equipment, not just picking up a camera and start shooting insignificant little stories that nobody cares and nobody is willing to pay for. Diversity is what’s needed today in order to prosper or for some even to survive.

By diversity I mean the ability to provide services in every area of productions. It means the ability of changing direction at any time the market dictates and not finding yourself, like we’ve been reading way too often that as the business environment changes people can no longer generate sufficient revenue to even survive.

Understanding the entire process of production means the ability to be able to do everything even thou you never did it before. It’s a system of logics that applies to every area of creating images. There’s no news, advertising, commercials, documentaries, feature, etc. It’s all productions.

One of the most frequent question that I’m asked is “what lights should I buy” My answer usually is “buy whatever light will help you do to the job right” That’s where I get the deer in the headlights look. Most people today don’t even know what doing the job right means, most expect the equipment to do it for them.

I’m using lights as a typical example but many question that I see asked are of similar nature across the entire spectrum of productions, equipment reliance taking over brain functions.

Nowhere is the inability of problem solving more evident that in this business, our business should be the easiest to achieve total efficiency, that’s because the best teacher is right in front of us. We spend several hours each day in front of it, that’s our television set. Somebody else already created something and got paid very well for doing what most wished they could do it too. The results of successful application of skills are there in front of you. That’s your best teacher.

The very simple formula to make money is to look at what work already made money and direct your all you efforts and goals in that direction instead of paying somebody to teach you how to do make crappy little stories that nobody wants or are willing to pay for. Does this make too much sense?

The teacher is there, learn how to read images on your own. I can’t stress enough the importance of this skill, it’s a most effective brain exercise. If you learn the technique of breaking down what the maker did you will also learn the skills of putting similar images together with the same efficiency and also with the same earning potential. But a word of warning, it will not happen overnight and advancement will be slow but steady. If you are one of those looking for instant gratification and a quick fix then don’t waste your time, this isn’t for you.

Exercise your brain. Create virtual assignment. Learn to see the light.

Next time you are at a restaurant or anywhere else think if this was an assignment, how would you handle it? You will suddenly start seeing all necessary element needed to create that scene. The beauty of virtual assignments is that you can do it mentally at your own pace without any pressure or deadlines. Who knows, maybe tomorrow that will be your assignment and now you’ll know what to do.

As I said earlier, creativity is not a 9 to 5 job.

Last edited by Nino; 11-29-2010 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 11-29-2010, 08:01 AM
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Testify brother!

It's all but impossible to find young people to bring up in this business because of the exact things you outline in your post. Most of them can't think. They are great at asking other people for answers but lack the skills to logically work through a problem.

The people I hire for my projects can all THINK, are excellent problem solvers and skilled at what they do. That's why they get hired.

Thanks for spending the time to lay out what many of us want to say to the next generation.
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Old 11-29-2010, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nino View Post
As I said many times before, the camera is nothing more that a dumb instrument that will record whatever the photographer’s ability is to create. The image do not take place in the camera, it takes place in our brains first, then we use our technological knowhow to transfer those pieces of information into a recording instrument.
Good stuff.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:28 AM
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More than that, Daniel...
What Nino has said is bloody brilliant.

Ive been telling people form years that the latest and greatest camera wont turn you into a master photographer. Its just a means of recording the image you create.
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:59 PM
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Nino,
Instead of griping about "what's wrong young people today?", you are actually in a position to do something about it by passing your knowledge on. I must say I'm shocked by this statement:

"One of the most frequent question that I’m asked is “what lights should I buy” My answer usually is “buy whatever light will help you do to the job right” That’s where I get the deer in the headlights look. Most people today don’t even know what doing the job right means, most expect the equipment to do it for them."

A good teacher would take the time to give more guidance than your glib response. I get that the younger people coming up need to learn to think and problem solve, but if we are given the opportunity, we can show them a better way. It's called 'teaching'.

(I was born in the early 60's by the way, so I'm no Spring chicken).
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
Nino,
Instead of griping about "what's wrong young people today?", you are actually in a position to do something about it by passing your knowledge on. I must say I'm shocked by this statement:

"One of the most frequent question that I’m asked is “what lights should I buy” My answer usually is “buy whatever light will help you do to the job right” That’s where I get the deer in the headlights look. Most people today don’t even know what doing the job right means, most expect the equipment to do it for them."

A good teacher would take the time to give more guidance than your glib response. I get that the younger people coming up need to learn to think and problem solve, but if we are given the opportunity, we can show them a better way. It's called 'teaching'.

(I was born in the early 60's by the way, so I'm no Spring chicken).
Being older should make you wiser.

Search under my name to see what my contributions have been on this board before opening your mouth, then ask yourself why you made such an asinine statement.
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Old 12-07-2010, 09:52 PM
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Bokeh,
You took Nino's statement totally out of context. Read the entire piece and especially the paragraph directly following the one you quoted.
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:35 PM
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Nino, I am well acquainted with your contributions on this site. The very fact that though you preach healthy debate, and then call me 'asinine' only proves my point. All I can say is that even in context what I read in your post sounded like straight-up whining about how ignorant others are with the only suggestion offered being to 'watch what's on TV".
Maybe you've spent too long preaching to the choir and aren't used to some objective feedback.
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:56 PM
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My post was about brain power and how to use it. There's a distinctive difference between watching TV and understanding how it was done.

As I said at the beginning of that post, ten percent will get it, the rest will reach in the fridge for another beer.

Have another cold one.
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:31 PM
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Nino:

That crack at Bokeh was pretty close to being beneath you.

Frankly, I had sort of the same thought. If this otherwise very interesting polemic was written for audiences outside this forum, then those readers would not necessarily have known your worthy contributions here.

So, the glib "buy whatever light" answer to someone looking for useful information about how different lights might function under a given circumstance would run the risk of making you come off as a bit of a jerk.

But I can certainly understand why you tire of getting the same question.
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:48 PM
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Even as someone who would probably ask the question of what lights to buy, I don't find Nino's answer frustrating or evasive, even if it wasn't couched in a thread about the learning process. It's meant to spark thinking and followup questions. It's similar to the saying "buy a man a fish, feed him for a day...", but instead of fish, the analogy is lighting solutions.
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:23 AM
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I noted this quote was highlighted, and I just want to put in my 2.2c worth (incl tax)

One of the most frequent question that I’m asked is “what lights should I buy” My answer usually is “buy whatever light will help you do to the job right” That’s where I get the deer in the headlights look. Most people today don’t even know what doing the job right means, most expect the equipment to do it for them."

Everywhere I go, I am asked a similar question. "What Camera Should I Buy" when the person is really asking "What camera should I buy that will make me take pictures like a professional" and in there is the thought "what camera will make me a professional?".

As Nino says, its folks expectation the equipment will do the job for them, when its just a tool for capturing the image.

I try to tell folks it does not matter what camera you use. Pushing the button is the easy bit. Its getting the things in front of the lens in the right places that is the hard part.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:45 PM
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True, if I get that hack vibe, then I don't waste a lot of time.

But if I feel like someone is genuinely interested in the performance and characteristics and uses of various cameras, I don't mind exploring each different camera's capabilities and drawbacks to try to help them decide what it going to work best for their project and their edit system.

It's the same for discussions I've had about lights. I don't just say: buy the best light for the job. I'll touch on which lights perform in what way, and help the questioner work through the best solution.

But maybe I don't get pestered as much as Nino.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:27 PM
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Actually Nino's answer was exactly right: buy (or use) the best light for the job. There is no one size lights all light. if you use the same couple lights for everything you are very limited in what you can do.

I have 16 lights NOT counting some odd and end practicals...and getting ready to add a few more. Do I use 16 lights all the time? Nope. In fact I have a couple that in 3 years I've used a couple times...but at the time, they were the right light for the job.

I get all sorts of questions about why there's so many lights...and as Nino said about 10% get it. They are tools....a carpenter showing up with a cresent wrench and a phillips head screwdriver isn't going to instill a lot of confidence in you when he shows up. Neither does the guy that rolls up to the shoot with a 4 light Arri kit and a duct taped light stand.

Yes, it's not the wand, it's the magician that waves it. But knowing which wand to wave..and when to use or not use that wand... makes a huge difference.

I'll echo Ben's comment...90% are looking for you to give the magic bullet answer. And that answer is there is no magic bullet.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bokeh View Post
Nino,
Instead of griping about "what's wrong young people today?", you are actually in a position to do something about it by passing your knowledge on. I must say I'm shocked by this statement:

"One of the most frequent question that I’m asked is “what lights should I buy” My answer usually is “buy whatever light will help you do to the job right” That’s where I get the deer in the headlights look. Most people today don’t even know what doing the job right means, most expect the equipment to do it for them."

A good teacher would take the time to give more guidance than your glib response. I get that the younger people coming up need to learn to think and problem solve, but if we are given the opportunity, we can show them a better way. It's called 'teaching'.
I would like to point out that those few lines above were taken out from my post that had almost 10,000 characters all about the skill of learning. If that’s not about teaching then I really don’t know what teaching is.

Teaching is a two way street. The teacher teaches and the student learns. If you don’t know how to learn then the teaching is wasted. The title of this thread is” The power of learning”

So considering that we are stuck on lighting let’s talk about lighting.

Would you be rather that I tell someone to go out and buy a $3500 Arri kit even if I know well that he has no clue on what to do with whatever is inside that kit?

The individuals who asked me that question has no intention of learning, he is already part of the syndrome that rely on technology to do the job for them. They don’t know that they need to learn first. They completely skipped the very first and most important step in acquiring skills, and that’s knowledge. This is not only for this profession but for everything we do in life.

Do you seriously think that if I tell them that they need to learn about the science of lighting first they would listen to me? They’ve been already indoctrinated in the mentality of let the equipment do the job for us. This is what I refer to as the “Rosenblum Syndrome” of “equipment today are so easy to use that even a nine years old can do it”.

I can surely teach someone that a softbox will give soft light (no kidding) and where to place the soft light as a key, but that’s no teaching. There are at least a dozen ways that I can achieve soft light with considerably better results that spending money for a softbox. If you learn about the physic of light and the effect it create on the subject you’ll also understand “why” instead of “place key light on X mark”. The same goes for every type of light, it's a physic that relates directly to our profession. The same also goes with every other piece of equipment we use, not just lights.

And the first result of “correct learning” will be that you will not waste $3500 on a light kit that you have no clue what it does.You will buy piece by piece as you learn what you need to do the job right.

I didn’t write the bible of production skills, what I write is what works for me. Yesterday I turned 65 and although people like Rosenblum and his followers like the Grinner character have been telling me that I was finished and they’ll take over, I’m the busiest that I have ever been in my life, my rates are amongst the highest in my area and I’m also making more money than ever. So somewhere in all the talk I must be doing something right.

People like Rosenblum and Grinner can talk to no end, they might impress someone here but as far as clients goes they do not exist, their methods do not exist. My clients biggest fear right now is that I suddenly decide to retire because as far as they are concern there’s nobody there to take my place. They even gave me a green light to hire extra help if I think I need it, and in these times of tighter budgets I consider that the best compliment yet.

What I’m trying to say is that whatever I have been doing has been working extremely well for me for over 40 years and I’ve been trying to pass it on like others did to me.

Someone else might have a better or different system of doing things, but unless you have something better or different to offer please don’t come on this board and tell me that I’m wrong without giving a reason or offering an alternative. You are just wasting everybody’s time.

So what’s the final conclusion of all these endless conversations? It all comes down of how good of a living you can make or what you expect to make from your skills. Let’s not kid ourselves here, the formula for a good living is “ Skills = Money”

Just look at this conversation that I had with Rosenblum on his blog. Keep in mind that he has been the loudest voice in letting technology replace knowledge.

And here are the results.

Quote:
By Rosenblum:
“Once people can crank out video content with the same ease (and proficiency and quality) that they crank out text, the video monopoly of a few media companies is going to be over.
And that is no bad thing.
There are a few billion dollars on the table.
Come and get them.”
Let’ see what’s happen to those billions

Quote:
By Rosenblum:
I have 20 journalists who work for me from home. They research their own stories, report them, shoot them, edit them and upload them from home to an FTP server that gathers them all in and delivers them to an editorial hub in NY.* We don’t have a newsroom. We don’t even have offices any more.
So I pointed this out to Rosenblum

Quote:
Are these the same “Journalists” that you advertised and got from Craiglist? Allegedly your interpretation of “professional journalists” who get paid less than an assistant manager at McDonald, with below poverty wages based on the areas cost of living. Do not get any benefits not even unemployment or workman comp, never mind health insurance or 401K.
And this is your interpretation of the future of Journalism? People incapable of earning a livable wage?
And this was finally the truth of what can be expected by using the “Rosenblum Syndrome” of total reliance on technology instead of using technology as a tool to enhance our skills.

Quote:
In our capitalist society, what people get paid is what the market will bear. In the old days, it was very complicated to produce video for TV. Today, it’s pretty simple. Pretty much anyone can do it. There are 28 billion videos posted to Youtube so far – that volume of material one would take one network 114,000 years to produce. So things have changed – and fast. Everyone and their brother knows how to make video and the gear to do it costs a pittance. This is the new world.
Within the same conversation Rosenblum went from a fantasy of making billions to a reality of poverty wages. And, as more and more people continue to believe in the Rosenblum Syndrome of everybody can do it the more people will get into the business and as the law of supply and demand goes, you can expect those poverty wages to go even lower and down to nothing. In fact, these people are so desperate to get anything going with their cameras that they are more than willing to work for nothing, just look at Craiglist ads, producers posting and getting plenty of responses in offering jobs that pay nothing.

So what’s real bottom line of these endless conversations? A “lucky to have a job” VJ, like those working for someone like Rosenblum, will have to work 12 years to make what this “washed out” veteran makes in one year.

That’s the result of the Power of Learning and using technology as our slave rather than being the slave of technology.
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:35 PM
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"I didn’t write the bible of production skills, what I write is what works for me. Yesterday I turned 65.."

No but I hear you may have been there when the other Bible was written...Happy Birthday old washed out veteran!
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tv Shooter View Post
"I didn’t write the bible of production skills, what I write is what works for me. Yesterday I turned 65.."

No but I hear you may have been there when the other Bible was written...Happy Birthday old washed out veteran!
Thanks

I remember bidding for the video version but they were looking for somebody to do it on spec. If I only knew that it would stay on the best seller list for all these years.
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Old 12-11-2010, 03:52 PM
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Nino,

I didn't notice this thread until today, but I just want to congratulate you on another GREAT post. Excellent. You have said what I would like to have said if I knew how to write so eloquently. Great job. I just wonder if the people who could really benefit from it will open their minds and understand what you are trying to tell them. It is an uplifting and positive message for those people who care about their career, making a good living, and producing a product that they can be proud to put their name on. Thanks.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:27 AM
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Thanks gang for al the kind words.

Let me give you some background.

The city that I was born in Northern Italy was once part of the Austrian Empire until the end of the first World War when it became part of Italy. Austria back them was a mecca for the study of the human brain and it’s behavior. That’s where Sigmund Freud’s conducted most of his psychoanalytical studies. Freud actually studied in my city for many years and that’s also where he published his first paper on the subject.

Needless to say, the presence of mind scientists like Freud had a strong influence on the academic of all the schools I attended as well as on the business community. This probably would be very boring today, but back then we didn’t know anything else.

Back in the 50s an alarm bell went off with those who researched and practiced those psychoanalytical studies. The very first mechanical calculator started making their appearances on the desktops of banks and financial institutions. Employees in Austria, Germany and parts of northern Italy were forbidden from using those new machines, or at least partially forbidden. They had to use conventional pencil, paper and brains first and double check the results with the calculators. The fears were that if the human brain would become too dependent on technology it will weaken and eventually become ineffective with some of it’s most important functions, particularly “the problem solving process”

How little did they know back then that their fears will one day become real.

Back in the early 80s (in this country) I attended a series of workshops and seminars on this new thing call the internet and the web, back then it was in it’s infant stage.

Experts, or at least self proclaimed experts because it was new and nobody really knew what will happen, predicted that one day there will be so much information floating around the web that the future is belonged to those who will be able to manage this mass of information, Google was born.

There were several groups, from governments to industries, all looking at the web as the new revolutionary way of doing business. The industry saw it as the best tool to increase productivity ever created. People will not have to “waste” their time creating answers, all they need to know is what question to ask, the answers will be just a few keystrokes away.

Not everyone however shared the enthusiasm, mental health professional once again warned about the potential dangers of the internet and mainly how industry leaders envision the use, or rather the abuse of this mass of informations. This echoed the fears that mental scientist in Austria had back in the 50s, and that’s the fear that the human brain will lose it’s ability to perform the intricate function of problem solving.

60 years after those warning bell went off in Austria and almost 30 since the starting of the popularity of the web and for the first time in the history of modern global industrialization, the US, who was the perennial leader, has fallen behind every industrial nation in the two most important academic subjects: science and math. The increase of productivity that business experts predicted never materialized, or at least not to the extent that they expected it would.

The repercussion of this can be felt in today’s economy. Countries that until two decades ago were not even considered as part of the industrialized world are taking millions of jobs away from us. These people are more intelligent because they have to take education much more seriously that we do, for them is the only chance to survive and get out of poverty and starvation, and poverty and starvation are the two best motivators. They have been taking resources from us that until a decade ago was exclusively ours, or even better yet, we've been giving them our resources for the simple reason that they can do a better and cheaper job that we can. But what the heck, our football teams can beat their football teams anytime and anywhere.

For those who are waiting for the economy to recover and return to the standard of living that once was you might be waiting for something that will never come back, start thinking of alternatives.
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  #20  
Old 12-12-2010, 09:23 AM
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Nino Giannotti
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas View Post
Nino,
I just wonder if the people who could really benefit from it will open their minds and understand what you are trying to tell them.
Thanks Doug,

As I said at the opening of my post, ten percent will, but that's overoptimistic.

I have been dealing with people in this profession for many years as a working professional, as a student and as a teacher, and I have seen some major changes in attitude in recent years happening right in front of my eyes, none of which are good for the future of this business.

The worst and most damaging is the lack of understanding of how important the learning process really is. The repercussions will not show up immediately at the beginning of one career but later on it will be financially disastrous. These problem usually start showing up when the expenses and responsibilities start piling up, like attempting to raise a family with a reasonable level of comfort.

My goal isn't to change the industry but just to rescue those few smarter ones so they can continue the tradition of quality and profitability that only knowledge can provide.

All I can do is send the message out there for those who want to hear. These are also the most opportunistic times to get above the crowd. My clients never really truly appreciated what I did for them until these changes in the industry started taking place, that's because quality was a standard and not an exception. Now that quality and skills are becoming increasingly harder to find, those who can provide them have a clear field ahead of them.
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