Resurrecting Now and the Next

In 2012, I built a simple one-page website for an event that was being held on campus. I was just getting my WordPress designer sea legs under me, and was pretty enthralled with the idea of the “one-pager.” The title for the event was “The Now and the Next” and it was about engaging early career top talent, many of whom where startup CEOs, with current students. I wrote the tagline, “Prepare yourself for a dramatically different work environment by learning from the young leaders who are creating it.”

I remember at the time being captivated (naïvely) by the statement that, “65% of children entering primary schools today will ultimately work in new job types and functions that currently don’t yet exist.” Where did that number come from? And, maybe more importantly, where had I heard it?

As it turns out, the source of this stat is a common friction point. I found a 2017 BBC World Business Report that searched for the original source, and through the comments of Andrew Old, I think I’ve pieced back together what was likely happening when I was ruminating on this event in 2012. His analysis, which Iines up with my timeline, is that a 2011 book published by Cathy Davidson called Now You See It, cited the statistic, which was then was quoted and mass circulated by a New York Times article (he doesn’t say which one, but I’m guessing this opinion piece titled Education Needs a Digital-Age Upgrade). According to Davidson, she was citing an Australian Innovation Council study on the future of work, though she also claims that the council and subsequent website where the study was located, no longer exist. Even more bizarre, the Australian government told BBC that they could no reference to neither the Australian Innovation Council nor the paper she was referencing.

There’s a longer search for the stat (and I would recommend people listen to the BBC report or read Old’s blog post on the myth), but the TL;DR is that it’s essentially urban legend. I’ll end this point with this… I found it cited in a 2017 World Economic Forum “Future of Jobs” report:

By one popular estimate 65% of children entering primary schools today will ultimately work in new job types and functions that currently don’t yet exist.

As the report mentions, the stat has already been popularized and they provide no citation as if it’s already common knowledge. Unfortunately, my observation is more recent articles now seem to cite this claim anyways, which I find to be both lazy and dangerous.

But, either way, Twenty Twelve Adam bought in to it and–while not directly using the stat–certainly leaned into it for marketing purposes.

I was informed a few weeks back that The Now and The Next is being resurrected for the Fall of 2018, which is awesome as I felt it was a really good on-campus event. A quick Google search will find you exactly zero positive hits that it ever existed, which is unfortunate. Recently I was asked by a colleague if I had access to the old webpage, which I wasn’t sure. The website link had been broken when the department’s website was redirected from an external server and onto the university-mandated CMS.

We had hosted everything on a server with Mediatemple, so I went to see if my login credentials were still valid. As luck would have it, somebody somewhere is still paying that invoice. I knew that first I would need the WordPress database. Mediatemple uses Plesk as their control panel. Plesk has similar tools to CPanel such as phpMyAdmin, so I was able to easily export the database.

It dawned on me that I likely had the FTP credentials still stored in my FileZilla keychain, and those worked too. Lightning struck twice! I downloaded all of the old site files via FTP in bulk.

I then made my way over to my own personal server on OU Create and bulk uploaded them. Simple enough.

I would have liked to just dropped in the database, but it turned out I had to create a new database due to the server’s naming convention. I then imported the files, and went into my wp-config.php file to change the database name. I repeated the process for the database user as well.

And like magic, The Now and the Next was back online to be housed at adamcroom.com/nowandnext.

I love looking back at design trends.The slider is a nice touch and that was definitely hip. As I mentioned, getting everything on one page felt like a BIG DEAL in 2012 when subpages were all the rage. 2012 doesn’t feel like that long ago, but this theme isn’t even mobile responsive.

For an aesthetic perspective, skeuomorphism was in full force, as seen by the brushed metal and shadows to created an embossed effect. Hipster fonts were just starting to make their way on the scene. The two fonts in the forefront are Lamplighter Script and Silverfake. Silverfake had just been released so I felt right on the edge here. Of course, it’s now been integrated into every circle logo redesign ever.

Source

Back to the technical recap… To access the admin panel, I had to go into the WordPress database and manually type in the new site URL, which can be accessed via phpMyAdmin under your database, then wp_options, and option ID 1.

Last, I installed a very popular plugin I’ve used over the years called Velvet Blues Update URLs. It can automatically convert old site URLs to new site URLs (i.e. ccew.ou.edu/nowandnext becomes adamcroom.com/nowandnext), so that none of your images or links are broken. Over the years this plugin has become a staple of my regular WP diet.

My first thought was how impressed I was with how easy it was to move the site. I’ve got a bit spoiled by how quickly sites can move around with Installatron, but manually moving WordPress is still fairly painless.

My next thought was how impressive it is that a site running WordPress 3.4.2, released in September of 2012, was fully functional. For reference there have been more than 250 updates to WordPress (including 15 major updates) since that time.

WordPress 3.4 Dashboard, circa 2012

All of this is why I continue to work with the ball and chain that is WordPress. It continues to stand the test of time and has only impressed me more over the years.