It’s been almost 10 years but I still remember that job interview question… and my monumentally disastrous answer.
“As a communicator, tell us — what social media platforms are you currently using?”
“You mean, like, Facebook, and Twitter? I use both… but if you ask me, I think ‘social media’ is just the latest ‘Flash in the Pan,’ really,” I offered.
“Everyone is on Twitter now but who knows for how long? Personally, I think you can’t beat traditional modes of communication, like print, smoke signals and two cans linked with a rope, you know….?”
No, I didn’t actually say ‘smoke signals’ and ‘cans linked with a rope.’ But I might as well have, because my potential — and no doubt brilliant — career disseminating important public health information to Toronto high school students ended right there and then. Both interviewers quickly wrapped up the meeting, told me they would be ‘in touch’ and that was the last I ever heard, from either of them.
Oh, the laugh they must have had at my expense. And, who can blame them?
Fast-forward to a couple of years ago, when I began noticing an intriguing new word in job postings. (Yes, I was still looking).
Di. Gi. Tal. Deeeee Geeeee Taaaal
As in “Candidate will lead the digital communications strategy…” and “Knowledge of new media and digital communication tools is an absolute requirement…”
Of course, social hipster that I now am, I had NO idea what “digital” meant, but figured it had to do with digits. As in, five fingers, five toes. Just in case, though, I googled it. And got this:
Of, relating to, or being data in the form of especially binary digits <digital images> <a digital readout>; especially : of, relating to, or employing digital communications signals <a digital broadcast> — compare analog 2
Digital describes electronic technology that generates, stores, and processes data in terms of two states: positive and non-positive. Positive is expressed by the number 1 and non-positive by the number 0. Thus, data transmitted or stored with digital technology is expressed as a string of 0’s and 1’s. Each of these state digits is referred to as a bit (and a string of bits that a computer can address individually as a group is a byte).
Clear as mud… until that first night, of my first class, at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies’ “Digital Strategy and Communications Management” certificate program, where the instructor finally — FINALLY — explained Digital in a way that made sense:
When we say digital communications, we’re referring to…
Electronic transmission of information
Hee, hee…. Turns out, digital is nothing but just a fancy-schmanzy way of saying “take your computer and use it to send messages out there, into the world.”
In other words, smoke signals
That’s it. That’s all.
Now, that is something that even this dino…. er, diva, can understand.