The Oregon Trail Generation is an outstandingly apt title for those born between 1977 and 1981, so named as many members of this group played the epic educational game The Oregon Trail during elementary school computer classes. This generational segment possesses “both a healthy portion of Gen X grunge cynicism, and a dash of the unbridled optimism of Millennials,” according to Anna Garvey, the writer who coined the term.
During a time in which we were sponges seeking any and all data, we crossed our fingers hoping our digital oxen didn’t drown as we tried to ford the river. (And like many people my age, I, too, experienced countless virtual deaths by digital dysentery.) Along with a keyboard typing course, this was standard computer-based education for my generation until the final years of high school when CD-ROM encyclopedias and, for the lucky ones, 2400 baud modems became more widespread. Then everything changed. The free expanse of the World Wide Web’s growing well of data led to, a few years later, overload via the information super-highway, and we struggled to manage the flood of input.
By most accounts, that overload got worse in the decades that followed—we went from struggling with AOL access number busy signals to having perfect connectivity, always on and embracing a new ridiculous meme each day. In the process, thanks to the hard work of information curators flexing human logic and fancy algorithms, that endless well of data was organized so now computers can deliver real education in ways of which we could have only dreamed while hunting pixelated bison in the 1980s.
In reading the latest issue of Plan Your Meetings (maybe even the analogue print edition) in search of education opportunities you will often be directed elsewhere online—and there you’ll proceed seamlessly and actually learn. Not only will you find leads for scholarships, free and affordable resources and ways to attend professional conferences at no cost, but we’ve even included a full webinar from the MPI Academy (head to Page 18 of this magazine’s digital edition).
How much all of this can help your career is solely up to you. In the right hands, I see this information changing lives. (How’s that for “a dash of unbridled optimism?”)
P.S. Don’t miss free education opportunities at PYM LIVE events throughout North America—see future dates and register.