Generation X has the unique position of straddling two entirely different worlds, an older off-line world, and the new on-line reality.
Generation X children had to learn cursive handwriting in grade school. Now, this is a dead art, reserved for it’s original purpose of nib and ink. There is no longer any more need to concern yourself with ink spots, or the quality of your parchment. Generation X art students actually had to use charcoal, ink and paper to learn drawing, as opposed to using computer-assisted drawing (CAD) programs. Why suffer through those tedious smudges and wrinkles, when you can master Adobe Illustrator and nobody would ever know it wasn’t analogue?
There is NO DOUBT that technological improvements and breakthroughs in image capture, graphic design, web development and digital editing have pushed the boundaries of our creativity in a wonderful way. Equally there is no questioning that the evolution of the Internet, the globalization of our communications, and the incredible reach of social media and search engine marketing have made the way we market a very different beast from pre-internet days.
Karma was founded by two “Generation X” women, Janna Glenn and I, Jo Riding, who grew up at the very beginning of Web 1.0, learning to code strictly in notepad and html, then moving on to mind-blowing software, like Microsoft’s FrontPage. These women learned their film and photography skills on ACTUAL film, and have been through the transition from analogue to digital. These Gen-X-ers were there when Facebook erupted, when YouTube was born, when Twitter and Instagram didn’t even exist yet!
What is the benefit to having experienced and worked in the off-line world, as we watch so many of those skills become obsolete? Sure, nobody may need my skills of splicing a motion picture negative, or need my partner Janna to enter a dark room to process a roll of film anymore, but these lessons make us the last surviving generation to experience the history of human-made photography, hands on, in a way nobody will again. In my particular case, as a filmmaker, I watched as the Kodak Factory in the west end of Toronto shut down their motion picture department, then their still photography plant, and finally take polaroid off the shelves entirely. Now productions use High Definition or 4K Video.
Of course we move forward with the times, and use the very latest tech available, which offers economy along with incredible ease of use, but there is also real value in having the experience from the beginning.
When you build a website one line of code at a time, edit a film with hundreds of splices, or create a design using coloured pencils, you have an even greater appreciation and understanding of the current tools, and how they should be used to the best effect.
Some lessons in design, image, editing and writing remain immutable over time and technology, and should never be forgotten in the hazy delight of the next new toy!