Content poor

Latest study pointed to Vietnam workforce skill deficiencies, particularly in critical and behavioral skills (numerical skill was a given).

This study came not as a surprise. For years, kids have adopted a rote learning, picked up from peers and adults, who in turn, had picked up from earlier generations.

We are heading toward an era when technological platforms are abundant, but content wanting.

It is an equal of having all the stages in the world, smoke machines, sound machines, lighting machines, keyboards and sound effects machines, but no singer and composer.

Take the Beatles rooftop performance of  “Don’t let me down” as an example.

It was a winter day in England. Who would have thought of going out and holding an impromptu concert on the roof top, with “social proof” crowds gathered on the street and London police kept quite busy?

According to Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, the Beatles by then had played together for nearly 10,000 hours, first in Hamburg strip clubs, then elsewhere (except Japan where they were banned) before that memorable Rooftop concert.

Michael Jackson did buy all their copyrights knowing those were treasure troves.

Now, Bill Gates and tribes have risen, with Windows and Outlook for the desktop.

In short, the nerds have taken over. And there is nothing we can do about it.

Hardware rules. Until now.

Someday we will wake up and realize, what’s happened here?

Since when do we need to turn on the machine first thing as opposed to burning the incense? Bowing at the virtual altar and not the ancestral one?

Where are our priorities? chasing after the next version of the x-box at Best Buy and whatever OEM  happen to retail at the time?

One machine that has had some staying power (because it caters to a communal need): the karaoke machine. It cuts out the band (in its original meaning) and allows the mass to pick their own content and lyrics. Voila! instant party.


It asks little of us: cognitive skill (knowing which song and how to encode it), behavioral skills (how to take your turn and compete) and of course, numerative skill (tabulating the scores if you compete in teams).

Back to our skill deficiency alarm. If kids are allowed to explore and exploit their multi-talents, whether it’s in sports (Vietnamese women soccer team might score big this year, World Cup material) or music, designing or drawing, let the thousand flowers bloom. Move them up the chain of values, and not the chain of command (do you want to wage war forever? or else, why do we still behave in cold-war fashion?).

With inter-connectedness, mobile platform and dropbox, kids should be set free to pursue and optimize their lot in life. A nation whose policy is to blossom its young is the nation of the future. Take Israel, Ireland and India. What do they have in common? A national strategy and focus on IT talent infra-structure.

I hope someday you’ll join us. And I don’t think I am the only one.


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