Monday, April 27, 2009

Technology and 'Clash of the Cultures' - How Age May Affect Attitudes and Communication

Recently, one of the projects that I've been wrapped up in is an effort roll out to about forty users, a large percentage of whom I might characterize as "not tech-savy". One aspect of the project that I have noted with particular interest is a sort of demographic breakdown between users who are "okay/thrive with new software/technology platforms/gadgets" and those that fall into the "no new software/technology platforms/gadgets for me" category -- even with software that's as easy to use as

It's not really a new dividing line -- in the 1970s, Robert Pirsig wrote a great book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.), that does a nice job of characterizing this same kind of division. With life in the world of computers this issue often comes up, but there are times when it still surprises me.

However, not new doesn't mean that you shouldn't be aware of the impact and the impression that it can make in your communications. I came across this Techcrunch post last week, Survey Says Baby Boomers Think Playing With Your Blackberry During A Meeting Is Rude, by Erick Schonfeld. It references a detailed study on the impact of using laptops and PDAs during meetings, with the survey segmented into different age brackets. The short end is captured in the title, but it's worth a detailed review.

Whatever your age or your tech-savy demographic, I think you'll find the Techcrunch post amusing. Here's a snippet.
One thing Baby Boomers apparently really hate is when the rest of us are not paying attention during meetings and instead checking our e-mail or Twitter accounts on our mobile phones and laptops. A full 69 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed agree that “PDAs and mobile phones contribute to the decline of proper workplace etiquette,” while only 47 percent of Gen Y workers see what is the big deal. (By the way, who says “PDA” anymore? I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that it must have been a Baby Boomer who put together the survey).
Other comments in the post are also amusing. I've also embedded the source survey below for reference.

Tech Gap Survey - Get more Information Technology

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