Some people just don’t know it yet. So here’s my advice: learn about how the internet works.
Not you salty Luddite curmudgeon. But maybe your kids? Or are you teaching them that the internet is largely a waste of time? A passing fad?
Here’s what you (they) should do to get started.
Read the Wikipedia entry for the internet. This certainly isn’t the best, most comprehensive explanation of how the internet works, but it’s a decent place to start.
It lays out a basic history and some of the fundamental technologies upon which the internet is built. A lot of this might go right over your head, but that’s ok. You don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car. And you don’t have to be Sir Tim to wrap your head around the basics of how the internet works.
Next up, search engines. Today, that really means Google (honorable mention: bing & yahoo). To learn about how Google works, start here. Spend a lot of time here.
You might have no interest in search engines. You might think SEO equals spam. You might not see how the internet has any bearing on your personal or professional life at all. This post is lost on you. So share it with your kids. Thank me later.
Moving on, the social web. For better and worse, we’re connected. And the line between the online and offline worlds is only going to continue to blur.
I know, you hate this. What about privacy? What about the noise? Yes, these are huge concerns. But you can’t begin to understand and respond to these concerns without knowing how this stuff works. Today, you need to learn about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook & Google Plus.
For those of you who glossed over those links without clicking, they aren’t links to the sign-up pages. They’re links to the respective help sections. I know you are already a Twitter ninja and send auto-tweets of your blog posts 5 times per day. Do yourself a favor and read the help documentation. Read the “how to use blank for business” sections.
Finally, web development. Admittedly, not all of you are going to become hardcore web devs. But you need to know some basics. Forget Spanish, forget Chinese, code should be your second language. Read this. Bookmark this. Get started here, here and here.
These are the new bricks and mortar. The internet is the new Town Hall. It’s the new public square. It’s the new marketplace.
Do you need these tools to survive? Maybe, maybe not. Can a writer survive with a quill and papyrus? Sure. Can a carpenter build with a hammer, nails and a saw. Of course. Can a shop owner keep the books with an abacus? Okay, perhaps that one’s a bit of a stretch. You should get it by now.