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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Why learning is important (or why you should attend Scan-Agile '08). The story of grandpa Tony and grandpa Francis

I've come to realize lately that today's ability to learn is similar to last centuries ability to read. Confused?

Let me tell you a story.
One of my grandfathers (let's call him grandpa Francis) knew how to read, he was able to keep up with the latest developments in agriculture and even read the weather forecast in the newspaper -- a serious advantage in his time (early 20th century) over most people that depended on agriculture. My other grandfather (let's call him grandpa Tony) did not know how to read. Grandpa Tony could not keep up with latest advances except by word of mouth or (very much later on) by listening to the radio (and TV, even later).

Both grandpa Tony and grandpa Francis worked the land. They planted so they could collect and feed their families. What they could produce more (surplus) they could sell and buy other items such as  lighting oil, clothes and other ingredients they did not cultivate.

For them, yield and surplus were the name of the game. If they could collect more than they would consume they would become (so to speak) richer. Hence the importance of selecting the best plant breeds (such as potatoes, wheat, carrots, apples, etc. -- whatever grew in their climate).

Grandpa Francis was able to rent a farm and have therefore have access to better land, which in turn lead him to be able to have even more surplus. Grandpa Tony was not able to do so. They were both strong and hard-working men, both of them religious, both of them "good men" as they would say in those times. Both of them had a female first child and a male in the second birth -- an important economical factor in those times when work demanded hands and bodies. The only real difference was that grandpa Tony could not read, and grandpa Francis could.

Grandpa Francis would consult the farmers almanac for tips and hints of the latest developments. He was then able to choose the right plants to plant based on the most resistant and yielding seeds and was able to treat for certain diseases by learning about it from reading. Grandpa Tony had to rely on word of mouth and self-experimentation (not easy when you need to feed the family).

Grandpa Francis was able to rent a farm, to have a large(r) house and a larger family (more children = more wealth as families stuck together for long in those days).
Grandpa Tony did pretty well with his hard work and wild adventures (which should perhaps be a subject for another story), but -- critically -- grandpa Tony did not do as well as he could have done, had he known how to read.

What does this have to do with software? Good question, but there is a link. Today's factor in differentiating people's success in life is not reading, but something related: "wanting to read" or being able to learn.

Many people today go through their lives without reading so much as one book per year. That in effect prevents them from accessing knowledge that could transform their lives.

Agile Finland ry, we are trying to combat that lack of learning by creating opportunities for learning, this year we are putting together the Scandinavian-Agile '08 conference. In this conference you will have the opportunity, not only to learn from the top-notch speakers, but also to network with like minded people and learn from their experiences also.

I'd say that this is an opportunity you should not miss!

Check out our web-site, and register ASAP. We expect a full house and seats are already flying!

Come and learn!

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