‘Everything I learned was from the internet or YouTube’

Yesterday’s Age and Sydney Morning Herald featured one of my school’s students. Andy Truong is a 15 year old fashion designer who is just about to mount his own solo show at this year’s Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. He is the youngest ever designer to hold their own show. What an amazing effort, it’s seriously impressive.

But the line that really stood out for me in the news article was Andy’s quote, ‘Everything I learned was from the internet or YouTube‘. It’s a way of learning that some of us don’t understand and don’t rate. At Friday’s excellent session with Marco Torres, he told the story of presenting to 7 different Maths conferences. He held challenges between the maths experts and students. At each session, the students won the challenge simply because they used the internet, apps and software to discover what they needed to know. We need to start acknowledging the way the internet can teach us; we need to start thinking differently.

If Andy Truong had sat back and waited to learn design and sewing using traditional methods, he wouldn’t be experiencing what he is today. So kudos to the people who shared their knowledge via YouTube and the internet that he was able to access.

This type of sharing is something that, I believe, has brought us to a crossroads of current human belief and nature. It has been epitomised by the Apple vs Samsung decision in the last few days. Debate rages online about whether Apple or Samsung are in the right; simplistically, should we share our ideas or are others allowed to use our ideas or to ‘copy’?

Again Marco Torres illustrated a point using the example of Disney buying the rights or ideas to Marvel Comics for $4 billion. Here ideas are our new currency. He also explains how chefs like Jamie Oliver are the ideas people and it’s the sous chefs who actually fine tune the recipes initially conceived by head chefs. It’s the head chefs who earn more as they’re the ideas people.

Andy Truong certainly has his own ideas, that’s not in doubt; but what if the people who shared the ‘how tos’ on YouTube hadn’t have shared? How would Andy have learned? He probably wouldn’t have. So what value is there on sharing? It’s not something we can put a price on.

We need to radically rethink our ideas about making a lot of money vs making enough money and the role of sharing in our society. What will we decide?