A posting from Bernie Goldbach in Ireland helped remind me of just how much progress we've seen in the last decade.
The best way to see it is through the eyes of people who are growing up.
I've got two right here.
Robin and John are part of the Internet Generation, just as I am part of the TV Generation. It's their vocabulary. It's where they're most comfortable. We have one TV in our house, and not too many fights over it, because both kids are more likely to be spending time online than slumped in front of the Idiot Box. (He likes Comedy Central, though, and she still likes cartoons.)
A decade ago they were well ahead of the curve.They're not anymore, which is fine by me.
A few points about their own use of technology:
- They assume technology. (Robin's shirt refers to a robot her club made this fall.)
- They assume an immense amount of choice.
- They assume a PC will be available, at hand.
- They take e-mail connections as a given. Also IM.
- They type fast, although they don't know they're doing it.
- They assume broadband is available. When it was down earlier this fall, well, it was rough.
- They know how to avoid bad people, liars, and predators.
- They are dedicated to favorite activities, no more likely to stray from them than, say, I am. The difference is their favorite activities change.
Your mileage, of course, will vary.
There are also the usual accoutrements of youth -- an assumption and acceptance of constant, even accelerating change. Optimism, impatience, curiousity, energy, humor, mood swings. And something I can't explain -- they get along with their parents. (I have no idea how we lucked into that one, frankly. But I treasure it.)
Bernie notes some important points about their peers, and near-peers at college. (Robin graduates high school in May. Thank you.) He notes that they use print bulletin boards for questions-and-answers, rather than for social gathering. He notes they are moving off mailing lists for blogs, that they like their online address books synced-up, and he calls them "the social generation."
Good name, Bernie. Hope you don't mind my stealing it.
The online world gives young people today access to a lot more people than you or I met at their age. So long as the socializing is done strictly in their rooms, on their terms, with the bounds specified by software, they're quite happy.
This is the generation to watch when it comes to defining what the Internet will be. Not mine. I remind myself of this every day.