Archive for the ‘GenC’ Category

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Is a Change in Social Capital/Currency Afoot?

14 January, 2009

I am not a daily reader of the stars, but I do think astrology often has interesting things to say. I’ve had too many coincidental things happen (and too many scarily accurate astroligical readings) to not pay some mind to this. Let’s add two personal facts to this: I am a Sagittarian,  and the first group I ever joined on Facebook was “When I was your age, Pluto was a planet” (a real testimonial if ever there was one). So of course, I am talking about the transition of Pluto from Sagittarius to Capricorn.

The short paragraph on the astrology side:
Pluto in Sagittarius was about (amongst other things) excess, consumerism and adventure. Pluto in Capricorn is about reality, value and the real worth of things. Very simplistically, the whole Global Financial Crisis is really about the end of the Sagittarian excess and we are all expecting that we’ll get a dose of (financial) realism, expectation of honest value and maybe a little less excess in our corporate greed.

Ok, regardless of astrology, the whole GFC is also altering our mindset in many ways. I know a lot of people who are questioning values and what they stand for and invest in. People are increasingly interested in local food (locavore); organics, real value and tangible good.

One of the things that I think this might affect is a classic GenC interest – celebrity.

If we look for real value, we are unlikely to look for it in the more vacuous famous faces; the YouTube 15-minutes-of-fame types; or the excessive party-boy with no redeeming features. GenC is still likely to be looking for role model images (every generation prior has also done that) but I think we might see a shift in them looking for real value in these images – real talent, real skills and real quality, rather than just the sheen of celebrity.

And, that makes me wonder if we will, as a result, see a slight shift in the role of social networks and media. If we are after real value, then social currency might start to lose some of the gloss. Tangible assets such as communication, quality of response, thoughtfulness and responsivness are likely to come to the fore are critical components of creating social capital. Not that they aren’t important now, just that other things (such as numbers of friends, looks, sarcasm and ability to waste time and/or money) seem to have as much importance. Add to this that it is generally well understood that a key value in social networks is the presentation of the image we want to show (whether real of not) and I think we might be ready for a little reality collision.

Whether you think it is the stars, the GFC, or just a maturing of the social environment – I am betting that we will be seeing less of the “celebrity in her own lunchtime” stars, and more of those with real value (and likely more positive values). And that this may, just might, start to change the way in which we use social networks, what we say and what images we portray of ourselves.

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Anyone want to buy a (slightly) used iPhone?

10 September, 2008

This is being written on an iPhone. I have a relationship with my iPhone which is starting to change my relationshipo with my Internet-connected laptop. But it has also slightly changed my mobile phone behaviour – and in ways that I can feel I am starting to rail against.

Love the interface? Yes, but…
Love the interconnection between apps? Yes, but….
Love the large display? Yes, but….

I recently asked a group of about 60 GenC’s whether they wanted an iPhone or not. About nine of them did – a respectable 15%, not bad. I was curious as to how the rest felt, and asked who had no interest or intention of getting an iPhone. I confess, i expected similar numbers, but I was wrong.

40% of them did not want an iPhone. In a couple of cases, it was anti-Apple sentiment, but even ignoring that… Some had tried it and rejected it. One had received and iPhone and gave it away after a week, one had gone into the Apple Store to try it out with the intention of buying it – but ended up walking away and is still looking for a new handset. For almost all of the 40 of didn’t want it – they saw the iPhone as a neat little browsing device, but a substandard mobile phone.

Why? They didn’t like the soft keypad – they preferred the numeric keypad for text entry as they could type without looking at the keys.

They wanted MMS so they could share photos. They wanted flash, they felt cheated by a far less than fully-featured GPS. And most of them already had a music player they loved (often an iPod), so they didn’t need a duplicate for this.

But close behind the (in)ability to text at 60 words a minute blindfold, and send and receive photos, was the lack of decent Bluetooth support – how are they meant to share with their friends without it?

I remember my frustration with journalists who never understood what MySpace was, get all frenzied over FaceBook. At the time, and still, I think this is in part because they never gotMySpace (it was for a younger, less structured and more creative demographic) whereas the more formal structure of FaceBook and the slightly elitists sense of community they found there appealed to them – so we had a year of journalists talking up FaceBook and heralding the death of MySpace. I have a feeling we’re seeing a bit of this now – Apple has always been a phenomenal marketing company (even if not a great technology company) and their concentration on user interface and experience cannot be denied. So now we’ve got a raft of journalists who suddenly getthe mobile internet – because they’ve got a real internet device in their pocket, even if it is not a great mobile phone.

For the mobile Internet (and the Internet will go everywhere) – the iPhone can’t be beat. But as a really mobile connection device – there are some pretty fundamental flaws. I might be fine about the changes to my internet behaviour, but I’m not happy about the loss of some really mobile tools I was used to. And certainly, according to one random sample of GenC – the iPhone just doesn’t cut it as The Most Desirable Device (which admittedly, most of them are still waiting for).

Apple’s Kool Aid sure tastes great, but maybe we need to slow down our drinking.

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The New Natives

6 December, 2007

Rupert Murdoch certainly created a common term when he referred to himself as a ‘digital immigrant’. The term ‘ditigal native’ has become common enought that I received a chart today with a generational breakdown showing where groups ar natives, immigrants or aliens.

I think the same thing is happening in mobile, and that it has happened with every paradigm shift device.

When television first arrived, we called it ‘radio with pictures’ – and that’s exactly what we did with it. We also treated it like theater and had static camera with actors moving about. Eventually we realised it was a new phenomena and TV as we know it took off.

With the internet – this started the same way. We took the existing forms of media – TV, magazines and newspapers – and put them on the internet. Even now, a huge number of internet sites remain digital version of legacy media.

But that changed when the natives, who had grown up with the internet, reached the age of invention. Suddenly we got internet sites (and services) which could exist only on the internet. Amazon, eBay, Google for starters. More recently we’ve seen tagging, sharing and social networking sites join them.

On the mobile, what we’ve got now is really the same thing. The previous media (in this case the internet) on the new medium (the mobile phone). Mobile natives, those who grew up with the mobile as a integral part of their life, are only just coming of age.

I don’t think we’ve seen even the first wave of native application for mobile, and I think most of us are so steeping in other media/mediums that we can’t even conceived of what these might be. Sure, they are likely to include location, bluetooth and integrated uses for the camera and phone – but I’m not even going to start imagining what they will be.

And, like all good innovations – once we see them, they will be so obvious that we’ll wonder why we didn’t come up with them first.

Anyone who says they know the future of mobile, mobile services, mobile applications – is more than likely only a mobile immigrant. The future will be with the natives.

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FaceBook vs mySpace

25 September, 2007

Reading today about the battle (so called) for the social network space. Will it be facebook, will mySpace? Will it be both of them, one or the other? Does it really matter?

In my discussions with GenC a couple of consistent themes come up:

  • we go where our network is
  • we prefer to message people through the social network application
  • we want to say what we want to say
  • we like ‘playing’ with who we are

So a couple of thoughts on this. If my classic GenC (17, female) is on mySpace; yet my classic GenX (44, female) is on FaceBook, why is it? Our GenC likes to say she lives on Christmas Island (even if all her friends live in Sydney’s inner west); she likes to say she is 99 (but doing her high school leaving certificate); she likes to be friends with Pink (who has has met) and Tom (who is friends with everyone) and lots of people she doesn’t know; she knows her mySpace is vivid and loud and her mother would hate it – but it’s all about HER – ok?

And my GenX – she only really wants to talk to people she knows, or who come recommended, but who she is pretty sure are real; she is more interested in seeing what other people are doing than in making statement about herself (loves the news feed); she doesn’t mind playing, but sees FaceBook as a bit of a time waster and is starting to get to the point where updating it is difficult and tedious (FaceBook Fatigue).

Maybe the biggest difference is two fold – where their community is; and where their sense of self is – internally focussed or externally. In reality, does it matter? Some of us are comfortable in more than one place and we might never chose one network over the other.

But then again – if home is where the heart is, social networks will end up being where the network is. I’d be interested to see the possibly different networks we keep or develop on these different sites – do they reflect different elements about who we are and how we connect?

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Email is a Window-Face Envelope

13 September, 2007

First – no excuses for the silence, but sometimes work gets in the way of a good idea!

I was recently at a session on social networking with a couple of school kids who were talking about how they communicate with each other and with their networks.

On the whole, their preferred manner is through the network application (mySpace in their case) – notably if they knew their friends were online *now*. If not through the SocNet, then their next preferences were Instant Messenger or SMS (text). In fact, they commented that they used IM and SMS for private conversations; SMS for speed; and the SocNet for the public comments (more on this later).

They don’t like email.

Yes, in fact they really don’t like email.

Why not? Well, the only who they need to talk to who aren’t on either their network or their IM buddy list are clearly not friends. They are parents, teachers, supervisors – authority figures of some kind, with whom they communicate through the ‘legacy’ communication systems of their elders choice. Email.

Remember the days of snail mail? Hand written or even machine addressed envelopes were fine, looked forward to, exciting. But when a window-faced envelope arrived, well, that meant the bank or the lawyer or, more likely, some bill for something. You dealt with window-faced envelopes reluctantly, as a necessity. This was authority encroaching on something that should be fun.

And that’s how GenC sees email. Just like a window-faced envelope…..

Makes you wonder if long term, this might have an impact on how FaceBook sends out alerts. While email suits those tied to their inbox, if I live on IM and SMS, the alerts are going to dead air. Only when I join the workforce and my inbox rules my day, will those little alerts become a have instead of more hell.