September 7, 1999 -- Newsletter #44

By Joe Burns

September 7, 1999 -- Newsletter #44
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warrior,

9/9/99 is coming! That's the next Y2K concern date coming up. I actually had a gentleman come up to me as I was unpacking my belongings. He wanted a lot of my boxes. That was fine with me, as it was one less that I had to lug to the trash. Do you know what he wanted them for? He was putting together a Y2K preparation kit.

Did you hear...

>We laptop fans will rejoice! A new battery, Electrofuel PowerPad 160, ran for 15 hours in a PC World Test. It can be yours for about $500. Unbelievable. I get about 2 out of mine before the "switch to wall power" window pops up.

>If you don't mind looking at targeted advertisements in return for free access to the Net, now you can go with a big dog. AltaVista has become the largest U.S. company to offer free access to the Web.

>The Pennsylvania Securities Commission has just put an Internet Fraud Unit into action. Good deal. The unit is made up of seven members who make their money surfing to find fraud. I like this trend.

Now, onto today's topic...

Remember when the big joke about technology was that the clock on the VCR was always blinking 12 noon? When new technology was sold to an older audience using the statement, "Get a 12-year-old kid to help you understand how it works"?

Well, now all those 12-year-old kids are becoming the twenty- somethings of the world. Folks, the computer generation has grown up. Their attitudes and methods of getting from here to there are about to start having a marked effect on the world as we know it.

The generation coming up will do what's known as "internalizing" the technology they grew up with. You did it, too. Those of the television generation internalized TV and lived their lives giving a nod to the TV. When your show comes on, the world stops, right? It's the same thing with appliances and household items. You used to have to prepare dinner, but now you can heat it up in a tray. Consider videos or the electric light. Each major invention has had an impact on how people live their lives and their perception of how things around them should be.

"The Net Powered Generation," a survey that polled 8500 16- to 22-year-olds in North America, found five "emerging beliefs and expectations" that will be part of life in the years to come (or until newer technologies change the landscape once again). The authors of the survey have termed these five items the "New Rules." Ready for this?

1. The Net Generation of young adults will expect "deep and accurate" information to be available all the time, no matter where they are. Those who know how to use the Internet are already coming to expect that. When preparing for a class, if I can't find something on the Web to bolster an argument, I'm put off. It surprises me. Soon it will be expected to be the norm. Books? Bah!

2. Young adults will insist that personal information has value and they will expect marketing to be geared toward that personal information. Mass marketing is out. Pinpoint targeting of advertising will be expected. Basically, don't show me anything that doesn't have an impact specifically on me. Don't show me anything that I would never want to buy. The Net Generation will expect that their salespeople know them better than "just another customer."

3. The survey noted the line "choice is a human right." The Net Generation will begin to request a wide range of choices in whatever they wish to buy, get knowledge about, or consume. No more will Henry Ford's statement, "You can have any color as long as it is black," stand. This will also go into creating products for the consumer. If, after searching all of the choices available, the consumer doesn't like his or her stable of product, then a product should be built to meet their standard. Those companies that cater to this mentality will sell to the Net Generation of money producers.

4. The Net Generation will believe that there is such a thing as a "free lunch." The Web has so much free stuff. The Net Generation will expect this way of doing business to be used across the board of commerce. They will require beta-tester stuff, a taste before they buy the food. They should be able to drive the car for a week before making a decision. Free is in, so says the Net Generation.

5. I found this one really interesting. The Net generation will change our concept of how relationships are constructed. The use of the Internet to connect with another person is already seen as more than casual. The connection will start to be considered a true relationship, a true friendship. If two people converse and couple up over the Web then, even if they never see each other, they have a relationship. Trust will be built over phone lines rather than with a handshake.

Okay, anyone else find these a little too "gimmie, gimmie, gimmie" for their taste? Maybe it's because I am no longer part of the upcoming generation. Actually, I'm part of no generation. I was born in 1964, the one year with no moniker for the generation. I'm one year too late for the Baby Boomers and one year too early for Generation X. All I know is that I was born under the sign of the dragon.

I am what I am... a grouchy guy with a computer.

Now, will all of these picks come true? Nah, but I do see the world moving into a more Web-format approach to business. I also can feel students carrying themselves as if they matter most. It's a good thing to see. I will always be a fan of a young person who believes they are important enough to be known just for who they are. Those are the students who get knocked down, but then have the belief system to simply get back up again. (That's a quote from a popular song by the way, in case you missed it.)

I would like to see this survey done again in five years, but this time I would like to see the information gathered in areas not known as tech centers. Of course, people at MIT will want technology in their lives. Let's see if the young adults in the Midwest or in the Deep South are following the trend of those in NYC and Seattle.

My bet is that they will. Kids are kids and the Internet knows no boundaries. This is the generation that will take care of me in my old age. After six years of teaching, I have a pretty good feeling that they will.

Everyone except that one kid in my Television Production class. I don't think he liked me.


And that's that. Thank you so much for reading, all 36,000 of you!

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: Punishment can sometimes be described as "draconian" if it's overly harsh. Well, did you know that there actually was a person named Draco? Yep. He was a law- maker in Greece in the 7th century BC. He set laws that were very, very harsh, including death for petty theft. Bad guy, that Draco.

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