In 2003 I worked for a small Anglo-American company publishing journals, magazines and websites. The company had moved with the times, sort of, but was still predominantly an advertising sales-led, offline publishing company.

Useful technology was making the production process easier and faster. But we still used a fax machine for certain processes.

PDFs were still something of a novelty in certain quarters and the term was bandied around, without everyone fully understanding what it was. Hence, one morning I was walking through the office kitchen when I heard a senior director say to another colleague 'and PDF me a coffee, please'. Needless to say, I wasted no time in taking the piss.

 

Now, what could possibly have happened for him to think that a file format could also help deliver a hot beverage, I know not.

In hindsight I was arrogant and stupid to react the way I did to the PDF comment. Why should my colleague have known or cared? He wasn't on the production team. His work was a million miles away from the Macs and wires and printing presses.

But his words come back to haunt me when I peddle presentations about digital engagement around Government departments.

Until now I have never worked in any organisation where there is such a broad range of ages. I really value it, because there's a corporate memory there that has often been lacking in the young, high churn companies I have worked for. But it also makes me think twice about assuming too much knowledge or confidence when it comes to digital.

I don't think for a second that age automatically relates to confidence or knowledge of digital. But its fair to assume that while my career started in a digital environment, many people's did not. And for some, that does affect confidence. I do my best to allay fears and preconceived ideas.

This got me thinking about what, where or when will be the break point for me? I would consider myself reasonably close to the innovative end of the modern workplace, but presumably so did lots of other people at one time. I don't have much to do with open data or code, so maybe that is the future and therefore where I might be left behind. Or perhaps there is some yet unknown platform or channel out there that I just won't be able to get my head around?

I feel like I am waiting for my own 'PDF me a coffee' moment. Has anyone else identified theirs?

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/