I have now been a guest lecturer at the three universities closest to me, Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland. I might be bigging myself up a bit here but I was there, standing in front of the students doing my stuff and wondering what was going on in their heads. This was my second time at Newcastle and I was presenting on the Implementation and Use of Digital in Government. As always when I give this talk, my first question is ‘What is government?’ followed shortly by ‘What is digital?’
Both questions seem to flumex the audience for some reason. They appear reluctant to answer yet they scribble away on their notepads furiously. I guess that means they are taking things in.
Standing up and speaking to a bunch of young people who are at the start of their careers is rewarding in itself. It allows me, in my own small way, to give something back from the experiences that I have enjoyed yet it makes me realize how much life has changed since when I started.
When I was at school, there were no computers. The most exciting tech was an electronic calculator or a digital watch and things were not much better when I got to University. There the pinnacle of achievement was the tape recorders in the language labs. Now everything is done digitally, or at least if not now it soon will be. That is the essence of my talk. No one can know the future yet we can be certain that digital technologies and the more modern ways of thinking that they bring will play a pivotal role in shaping what is to come.
As I looked upon their cheery faces I wondered how much life would change during their tenure. The pace of change is speeding up and they are likely to face far greater transformation and disruption to their working lives than I ever have.
Part of me is excited for them and another part filled with trepidation. I wish them luck and hope that I have helped them along the way.