I was at the Pearcey Awards last night for IT entrepreneurs. Mike Canon-Brooks, the co-founder of Atlassian was on the panel and mentioned that he was amazed at how much the "youngsters" in his company could absorb over the net ... actually Mike looks like a "youngster" to me himself :) What I took from his comments was that they had become accustomed to learning from "net manuals" meaning discussion lists, FAQs, forums etc.. I had also noticed this with my own generation Y children ... I never saw them reading a manual.
Now in my day we always started with the manual ... that gave us the basics and then we looked at the more informal sources for the real hard or tricky stuff. I'm currently working my way through the learning curve on the Confluence Wiki and its multitude of macros and plug-ins. There is no manual! Searching through the forums is a somewhat unatural act for me when I'm just trying to learn the basics. Is this just a baby boomer thing? Brought up on learning 1.0!