I believe older people understand the impact of technology on business, economy, life, politics, education, govt, etc better.
I mean their understanding of the impact that new and disruptive technologies have, and not the way the technology works itself.
For example, my grandfather understands the impact of cell phones in India better than the teenager who spends 5 hours texting each day. My grandfather doesn’t text and uses the mobile phone for a few minutes each day. No long conversations, no lengthy chats.
As a kid, he grew up watching the impact land-line telephones had on a growing economy and how it made business over longer distances possible. Watching cell phones, he quickly remarked how easy it was to now not have a permanent home/business address. The only permanent address you need to deal with is a location to get the bills at. I still need to tell him about non-indian cellular carriers and ease of online payments.
Even at many places I worked at, the sentiment among the younger, entry-level crowd was that the management was too grey-haired to understand effectiveness of new technologies.
I believe management usually has a good grasp of how to best implement technology. It’s the bureaucracy and office politics that kill most initiatives.
Growing up, being the first kid in my family with a computer that I really owned (meaning: Only I knew the BIOS password!) I can safely say I understand this sentiment, 11 years on.
I am now the strongest proponent of getting my kid-cousins the latest and greatest toy without any expectation of them mastering it. I don’t want them all to become programmers and hackers. If they can use the newer technology in whatever field they persue, my work is done.
Unfortunately, a lot of parents and families today equate computers (and technology) with becoming a programmer (the next Gates, Jobs, Murthy or Premji). Kids don’t use computers because they love debugging infinite loops in their code (ok, some do!). Kids love computers they way 20 years ago kids loved their first TV’s and radios. Did anyone expect those kids to become newscasters and musicians?
As we get older, we understand less and less of how the latest and greatest works, but more and more of how it’s all happened before. Just with different ideas and products.