For our last keynote of the week we had Lee Raine, Director of PEW Internet & American Life Project. Lee started out by asking us who was going to be blogging this and there were actually fewer hands than I had expected – he said it was a couple dozen, but it didn’t look like that from where I was sitting. He was asking as a segway into showing us what other bloggers had written – the funniest had to be a presentation where people were chatting live while he was talking – not too bad, except that the chat was up on the screen behind him, so when someone wrote “He’s older than I thought” the entire audience broke out laughing. After this Lee asked us to be kind — I guess it’s good that he gave a very interesting presentation 🙂
Apparently his speech was altered by the most recent Time magazine cover (which I saw at the grocery store today). The cover reads “Are kids too waired for their own good?” It’s an article about the Mellenials or Generation M (M for media). Apparently this generation spans 1982-2000, but I can’t see that it really spans that wide a time range – my sisters were born in 82 and I don’t think of them on the same level (technology and wired wise) as the people that Lee talked about – maybe we were in the minority growing up. Lee said that millenials “are not tech-savvy, they are tech-embracing” which is an interesting way to put it. Just because your 5 year old uses the computer more than you doesn’t necessarily mean he knows more about how it’s working.
There were other characteristics of Generation M that Lee mentioned that I thought – well that’s true for me too – like the fact that things like TV programs and radio programs no longer control their schedules. If they want to watch Survivor they don’t have to stay home – they can watch it on their mobile device (maybe) or Tivo it and watch it another time.
Millenials are observed to have “continuous partial attention” – they are always scanning for the best thing to do, see, buy – which is not to be confused with multi-tasking – which they are also very good at.
What does all of this mean to us as librarians? Well these are the people that a public libraries have to draw in – and the people that we (law libraries) will be dealing with in a year or two – if we’re not already. The way these people will approve learning and research will be shaped by their techno-world and if we don’t understand and embrace it they’re going to find another – probably less reliable – way to do their research.
Overall a very interesting presentation – rich with statistics and presented by someone who was obviously at ease on stage.