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Do age and social networking really matter?? October 15, 2008

Posted by dreanotes in Work-Related.
Tags: , , ,

So, there were some interesting tweets in the Twitter-verse yesterday and I think it started with Alan Lepofsky (yes, of the one-time Lotus fame) talking about some “Gen Y” people who had come to his booth today and spent a great deal of time talking about how they wanted to change the world, and that their needs for tools were different than anyone else’s.

And Alan’s initial tweet was

…Just listened to 20 min of 4 20somethings talk about their needs, which were identical to the needs of everyone around me.

And, of course, there were other tweets in response, some from fellow IBMers like Luis Suarez.  And Luis’ comments are valid and certainly pointed out that not everyone has the time to search for information nor does everyone live with these kinds of tools.


But, it got me thinking.  In many presentations, I have seen people tie this whole social networking thing to the Millenials – and we even have slides in many of the Lotus Connections presentations that show age gaps and how different ages learn differently, or react differently to the sharing and collection of knowledge.

As a side note….I can’t tell you how many times I have had customers come up to me after a presentation like that and say they took offense to that particular slide – the one about how different ages learn/connect, etc.  They say, it’s not true, and is a generality we shouldn’t be preaching.  And, I, for one, have taken that slide OUT of ANY pitch I give on Connections or social software.  I think it’s a bit demeaning.

But Anyway…back to my point…

Was it really the age gap that brought about these tools?  Was it really the “needs” of the millenials that were SO different from the needs of everyone else that brought this whole revolution?  Are millenials really the only ones who were crying out, demanding these tools?  Or are we just grasping at straws here?  Why do we feel the need to constantly hold onto that age gap thing?  I’m really having a hard time with this.

Sure, we had a TON of intellectual capital sitting in people’s heads – but I would argue that many non-Millenials were thirsty for the tools to share this information too.  I think the need was out there, no matter WHAT age you were or where you were in your career.  I use the Internet.  I “play” online.  I collaborate in new and inventive ways.  And I’m NOT a millenial.  And, I know many, many just like me – and they aren’t millenials either.

Maybe it’s that the millenials are pushing harder or refusing to use other tools more – maybe we should have stood up long ago and pushed for these tools ourselves – maybe we were just too complacent with things like team rooms and discussion databases and forums and such.  (which have been around the whole time I’ve been out of college)

I don’t know.  But I know one thing…I for one, am going to try to stop pushing the age issue so hard.  I think we ALL need these tools.  We ALL should be using them – because true collaboration is NOT new.  The ability to share information is NOT new and this is NOT just a millenial concept.

It just has a better wardrobe. (ok..and maybe a face-lift or two)

Or am I just age sensitive today???  ;-)