The Millennial Mind – High Tech, Low Touch

November 3, 2009

This past weekend my wife and I stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott with the new GoBoards – basically large flat screens that you can touch to access news, weather, and maps. As we were waiting to check in, I was drawn to this large, bright screen like a bug to a bug zapper and immediately started going to work on it. At the same time a  young boomer couple was with the front desk clerk with a large paper fold out map and a half-dozen questions on where this was or how to get to that. In less time I not only knew where this was and how to get to that, I read the US Today news feed and checked the weather during our stay.

It amazed me how I went directly to the computer and really had no desire to speak to the clerk and the boomer couple had no desire to even look at the computer but went right to the clerk. Given the choice I would have preferred an automated check-in and bypassed the clerk all-together.

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Web 2.0 as a Concept

June 22, 2008

I had an epiphany of sorts this past week while I was away at school.  For every new technology trend to hit the market there is both the technology and the underlying concepts of said technology.  Basically, the technology is just the tool and the concept is what defines the tool.  This seems somewhat obvious but I think I’ve taken it for granted.

A fellow Millennial had the idea of creating a flickr account to capture all of the pictures from our year long graduate school adventure.  As we all know, flickr is a an online community for sharing pictures and video.  The key words here are online community.  Online to me represents the centralization of these digital assets in the cloud and not hiding them on the desktops of 90 individuals.  Community is defined as ‘common, public, shared by all or many’ and represents the ability for those 90 individuals to contribute to and view these centralized digital assets.  So online is our Web 1.0 concept and community is our Web 2.0 concept.

So our Millennial friend was the first to start a community and notified the class on the 12th of this month.  Following that we had another individual post pictures to SharePoint on the 17th and then a different person added pictures to Picasa on the 21st.  Both of these individuals are not of the Millennial variety.  So now we have three individuals building three separate communities with assets in three different tools. 

I believe each of these individuals made great Web 2.0 tool decisions however they missed the boat on some key Web 2.0 concepts.  Now we have three communities with the same intent, essentially creating a competitive environment.  This either forces folks to share with not one community, but all three, or even worse, not share at all because the the process has been convoluted.

In our situation the usefulness of the tools is evident but the concepts of the social computing was lost on some folks.  This is a small example with a big take away.  I learned that regarless of how cool or interesting a technology may be, it’s the concept that is important. 


Wiki Woes

August 3, 2007

A wiki is not a Wikipedia, Wikipedia is a wiki. Wiki’s are not an inherently useless collection of Web pages with lackluster or nonexistent security, history, and versioning features. With that said, is the concept of a wiki that hard to grasp? I mean, its just a simple application that takes inputs through a Web form, stores them, then makes that content visible and readily editable through a browser. Blogs and wikis are technically some of the most simple applications but yet seem to be some of the more controversial collaborative tools that Millennials are using and hoping to share with other generations. Don’t get me wrong, Millennials did not create the wiki concept or technology (see Ward Cunningham) but they have made it an integral part of their collaborative arsenal.

Recently I started a corporate softball team for the IT department at my company. There was an obvious need for some sort of Web presence to hold all necessary information such as rosters, schedules, recaps, pictures, etc. I chose the wiki engine stikipad.com for its simplicity, ease of access, and the fact that it was free. By the end of the season I ended up being the only content generator aside form the blog like comments left by a few team members. I created and maintained all of the pages, I uploaded and linked all of the pictures. I’m fine with putting in the leg work but I was hoping to facilitate collaboration and distribution of content generation. That was not so much the case.

There were very few comments, and some of the comments were there to simply mock the concept of the wiki as if it were a joke. I am still ridiculed from time to time by coworkers for my support of the wiki concept yet no one can tell me why. InfoWorld.com deemed 2004 as the year of the enterprise wiki, yet its 2007 and I’m being taunted. Its as if members of older generations are afraid of wikis and other Web 2.o technologies, like its a bits and bytes version of the plague. In retrospect I think if I never told anyone that our team site was powered by a wiki engine and just let them have at it, the site would have received a much warmer welcome and it would have achieved my goals of collaboration and distribution of content generation. So I’ve learned my lesson, in the future when discussing the wiki concept with seasoned members of a large corporate IT department, refer to it as an enterprise grade content management system with lackluster permissions and oversight.