Technology Age Gap

Posted Friday, March 6th, 2009 at 04:17 PM


Old Phone
(Photo by storm_gal)

I like to think of myself as an early-adopter when it comes to technology. Much to the bane of my wife, I love the latest greatest and pine over the newest gadgets and technology. Yet there’s a big difference in the way my demographic, and the kids–college and younger–communicate/collaborate with people.

I’ll use my dad as an example to better illustrate. My dad was in the middle of the pioneering age of the computer industry. He was an early adopter too (probably where I got it) in the 80’s and 90’s, working in San Jose and San Francisco during the birth and boom of Silicon Valley. He bought his first computer in 1987 and got us online on a 1200 baud modem soon after. In the next 15 years he worked in Engineering and IT, so dad’s no luddite. But if I asked him to rate in order of priority how he communicates and collaborates with people remotely he would probably say:

  1. I use e-mail primarily to stay in touch with, and collaborate with friends and colleagues
  2. I make calls on my cell phone
  3. I make calls on my land line phone
  4. I send texts occasionally (in the US – when he’s in the Philippines, he texts all the time)
  5. I occassionally use a chat client
  6. I signed up on Facebook 6 months ago

Yet if you asked the same question to college-age kids and younger, it would actually be reverse:

  • I use my Facebook account to send messages and stay in touch with friends
  • I text my friends all day
  • I use IM to chat online with friends
  • I use my cell phone (non-texts)
  • I check my email maybe once a day, if that
  • I don’t have a land-line phone…why would I want one?

E-mail is Dead

You mileage will of course, vary, and I am somewhere between these two ways of thinking. But bottom line, the trend is the death of e-mail and the migration towards social networking. And I would agree with that. For many, e-mail is broken. It is ridden with spam, which makes it a security liability. It’s a horribly inefficient chat client/texting medium, which some people use it for: short one-line replies back and forth. It’s bad for sending files back and forth. The future of our world – the college age and younger – see no reason to use e-mail other than to have something to use to sign up for online accounts. So what do you suppose will happen when these kids enter the workforce…then later become heads of the workforce?

Hello, Social Networking

Facebook, the largest social network, is a good example of the way things are going to be. It’s an address book, chat client, blog, private messaging, public messaging, photo-sharing, video-sharing, forum. There are company groups, school groups, family groups, interest groups – all of which you can join and be a part of. It’s an all-in-one package for many, and I’m willing to bet the future will see Facebook, or something like it become further the center of how we communicate with the rest of the world.

Resistance is Futile

Mom and dad will come around – they are beginning to already. My dad was telling me the other day how his god-child, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby (and now 34), found him on Facebook, and my aunt said that she has been connecting with college classmates whom she hasn’t heard from in 40 years–through her Facebook account.

Those are just my thoughts, observations, and predictions for the future of communication in our world. Just another post that I can look back on and laugh at how horribly wrong I was.

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