(Photo by Frank Veronsky)
There’s a myth that says baby boomers — folks born between 1946 and 1964 — are technology-challenged. It says that this population doesn’t relate to or know how to use computers, the internet or social media.
“This is just not true,” said Steve Lubetkin, podcaster, author and baby boomer himself, during a recent Delaware Press Association event, “Boomer Reinvention: From Press to PR to Podcasting.”
While it is true boomers don’t consume personal technology to the same degree as millennials, some forget boomers developed many of the devices or applications we use today (think Bill Gates and Steve Jobs). And the precursors of today’s popular media were used during the youth of boomers. Lubetkin, 60, shared some of his experiences during his media career as examples.
“The Grateful Dead are an amazing example of how social media worked before there was an internet,” he said. Lubetkin explained that The Grateful Dead’s fans were permitted to tape their live performances. These audio recordings were shared then and are available now at Archive.org. The recordings include the iconic band’s game-changing concert on September 3, 1977, at Englishtown Raceway in Englishtown, N.J. – a show Lubetkin attended while working in media.
To file his reports from the event, his bosses equipped Lubetkin with a portable computer called a TeleRam Portabubble terminal. The primitive computer used data tapes to record the text and the data was transmitted via an acoustic coupler as the modem. “As far as I know, this was the first rock concert covered with a portable computer in history,” he said.
In 1988, he met a writer for Unix Today, an open source tech magazine, who gave him a business card. What impressed him about this encounter? Was it the fact that there was a tech magazine for open source Unix? No. It was that writer’s email address was on the business card, said Lubetkin.
After being laid off in 2005, Lubetkin started podcasting. The medium is said to have been started in 2003 by veteran journalist Christopher Lydon. Lubetkin now runs a professional podcast production and media communications company. Our sister site Technically Philly knows him well, as he often makes video recaps of Philly tech events.
Lubetkin’s message during the Delaware Press Association event was to remind everyone that the myth painting baby boomers as apathetic towards tech is simply a myth. He also hoped to encourage baby boomers to keep reinventing themselves using new technologies, a lesson that anyone from any generation can learn.