One of my favorite “old man” stories to tell my kids is about the computer science department at my university. I’m not really that old, but I am old enough that I remember watching CS majors in the computer lab using the dot matrix printers to print out their coding assignments. (I am old enough that I didn’t have my own computer in college, but then again I was a history major so as long as I had books and pen and paper I was well equipped for my classes.
Listening to music with musicians is interesting. Most musicians I know think of listening to music as an activity you do exclusively; not while reading a book, not while looking at your phone, or while working on email. The music deserves full attention while it’s playing. You learn and gain from the music by listening attentively and deeply. This isn’t to say that musicians don’t like background music. They do, but they also have the annoying habit of actually listening to the background music much more than normal people do.
…and I wouldn’t be brave enough to tell you if I didn’t. My first three months working at a tech company I was constantly looking up acronyms just so I could understand what people were discussing on the company chat. It felt silly to have to do that, but at least I was able to catch up quickly. Now that I have teenagers they will occasionally deign to translate their acronyms for me, the old guy.
I read in interesting article that got me thinking about communication. Ray Birdwhistell wrote in “Kinesics and Context: Essays on Body Motion Communication” that words carry no more than 30-35% of a conversation or interaction. This isn’t to say that words aren’t important, but the non-verbal aspects of interactions carry a lot of weight.1 In a world where more and more of our interaction happens digitally, we are missing out on a lot of context.