Generation Jones

Today, on the blog, Tame the Web, I read a post entitled Generation Jones by guest blogger Michael Colford. In it, he poses the question, “So what do you think? Why do some people take to emerging technology trends and ways of interacting while others do not? Do you have any thoughts?”. He is specifically referring to why some Generation X (which I am and which I’ve heard of :D) and Generation Jones (which I’ve never heard of, but which he says are those born between the mid ’50s and mid 60’s) members are quicker to embrace new technology than others. He puts forth the idea that it may have something to do with early experiences with technology and also with personal need for said technologies.

My own personal thinking on this is that it is basically a personality trait. If you are a person who likes, even thrives on, change; then you will be quick to embrace new technology. In fact, many people of this nature like new technology just because it’s “new”. I have to admit to having this sort of outlook myself. Like Michael, I am an Omnivore according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project’s Typology Quiz. The Annoyed Librarian refers to us as Omnibores! But then s/he is a Lackluster Veteran, so what’s her point?

So I’ll pass on his question to you. First of all, are you an enthusiastic early adopter of new technology? Omnibores, speak out! And if so, do you also find you are the sort of person who embraces change in general? If you are not fond of Web 2.0, what is your overall attitude to change in general? Talk to us Lackluster Veterans. Let’s test my theory.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m connector, which isn’t surprising since I’m, a mid-Generation Jones female. As such, it seems as if I have a foot in both worlds. I grew up learning to do research “old school” and know how much time it requires. As a result, I have a huge appreciation for the immediacy technology provides and it allows me to maximize my time – another hallmark of GJ, I think.

    When I was younger, we had teen lines and couldn’t wait to get home to be on the phone for hours. With the advent of personal communication devices, we don’t have to wait, but we can.

    I think that’s the nexus, it’s not about embracing technology or even warming to it. It’s the knowledge that we can choose to use it or not – either way, we can achieve our goals because we possess both skill sets.

    I watch my kids – 27 and 19 – and even they are very different in being “slaves” to their computers, phones, pdas and ipods. The older one is a whiz and she certainly uses them, the younger one is a techno god and seemingly can’t live without them.

    They both update their myspace and facebook pages weekly. The younger one can create ANYTHING – music, art, films on his computer and makes a tidy sum updating his friends’ ipod catalogues from his extensive collections. We must buy 1500 text messages a month for him or it breaks the bank! While hubby and I shake our heads, we realize this is his reality.

    In the end, I have to wonder what my children miss – there is a trade-off. I see that they expect instant gratification. I see the younger one reads less than the rest of his family. His vocabulary as a college soph (even at UCLA) has been reduced to sound-bites and abbreviations, which I believe is a reflection of the culture. They are certainly more detached as they can “hide” behind their e-mails and text messages. They expect to be able to reach anyone at any time and are incredulous when they can’t. I won’t even start on the video game vortex that provides virtual realities that may or may not be beneficial.

    When I read Margaret Atwood’s, “A Handmaid’s Tale” in the 80s, I scoffed that we would never become subjegated to technology to that extent – it seemed too sci-fi. 20 years later, it rather freaks me out how close we’ve come. The ones who survived were those who remembered the pre-techno ways.

    With that, I revert back to Mom-mode – you can have velcro tennies AFTER you learn to tie your shoes. You may have a digital watch AFTER you learn how to tell time. I’m glad to say that my daughter is sticking to this method with my grandson, who at six knows how to text, set ring tones, play games on the cell, has his own computer set-up, surfs the net and can download anything and tell time.

  2. Hi Colleen,

    It would be interesting to see which typology Pew found applied to each of your children. Also, do you think your son’s friends and associates of his generation are uniform in their response to new technologies? To what extent do you think his personality predisposes him to adapt to new technologies at such a high level?

    I have a 16 year old daughter and the other day I was amazed to see that she was talking on her cell phone and text messaging at the same time. But, on the other hand, she doesn’t get totally enthused about the technology or the “gadgets” themselves. She has a MySpace and a cell phone, but beyond that she doesn’t obsess about technology. Her main motivation is to be in constant contact with her friends 24/7. On the other hand, my 12 year old son is totally interested in creating websites and he wants to learn anything “new” just because it’s “cool”. At least, that’s how it appears to me. So again, I would argue that within each generation varying personalities react to technology differently.

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