Once an introvert…

Photo from Edudemic

I had an interesting chat with a librarian last night. She commented on how young people don’t know how to communicate because their heads are always in their devices. I don’t really want to talk about “kids these days” so I’m going to talk about myself instead :)

When I was a kid, we didn’t have mobile devices, we didn’t have computers and weren’t allowed hand held gaming devices (when they came out). But that doesn’t mean I sat a the table and talked to my family at dinner time. Instead I used to sneak a book out with me. My mom would tell me to leave the book at home, but I never did. I would read it under the table at restaurants instead of participating in family socialization. I’m sure my parents knew I was doing it, but I thought I was clever and I was content.

I guess my point is that even though the device has changed, I’m still the same person I was back then. I’d rather sit quietly at dinner with groups (I’m better in smaller groups) and read (my book, my email, my facebook, etc) rather than talk to the people at the table with me. I don’t have kids and I don’t deal with kids on a daily basis so I can’t tell you if these devices have made it so that they can’t communicate, but I can say that I probably wouldn’t be any different if I were raised today with a mobile device versus my trusty old book.

CIL11 Keynote: Dancing with Digital Natives

Michelle Manafy was our keynote speaking this morning talking to us about the digital natives – those who have grown up with nearly ubiquitous digital technologies. Michelle started with a series of quotes:

By the time they finish college, kids will have spent over 10,000 hours playing videogames, sent and received over 200,000 emails and instant messages and spend more than 10,000 hours talking on cell phones — Mark Prensky

Those who turn 15 in 2016 are likely to spend between 1,200 and 1,500 hours a year on digital technologies. — Urs Gasser

By 2018, Digital Natives will have “transformed the workplace,” changing organizations, sweeping away many previous expectations in the process. — Gartner Group

Digital Natives will be “the beneficiaries of hidden advantages … that allow them to learn and work … in ways that others cannot.” — Macolm Gladwell

She then went into to the three keys to engaging digital natives.

Living Publicly

Kids these days are living their lives more publicly than anyone. These digital natives are about public opinion not private lives.

Tara Hunt in The Whuffle Factor says that “Andy Warhol’d saying ‘everyone will be famous for 15 minutes’ has changed to ‘everyone will be famous to 15 people.’ This is how the digital natives see the world. Examples of this lack of concern for privacy would include sites like IJustMadeLove.com, Twitter, and Facebook. Michelle talked about how the police monitor Twitter for gang activity because gangsters like to talk about their conquests.

One way we can use this behavior in libraries is to allow patrons to use social sign on to log into our sites – things like connect with Facebook or connect with Twitter. Letting users use their existing social profiles to log in to see and share your content.

Knowledge Sharing not Knowledge Hoarding

The digital natives are about sharing and crowdsourcing, not keeping information all locked up. I’m not officially a digital native – but I too believe this whole-heartedly!! Michelle showed us the haul video series on YouTube where people share their shopping stories. They talk about deals and finds and model their purchases – sharing all the info they can about what they found instead of keeping it to themselves. Next she talked about Quirky a site where the community decides what products will be produced! Other tools mentioned were ProPublica, DigitalKoot, and SchoolsApp – all of which take advantage of sharing knowledge and crowdsourcing.

The act of social sharing and crowdsourcing is not limited to these obscure small communities though – IBM DeveloperWorks and P&G Connect + Develop also allow for the community to come in and share ideas with them. “Knowledge sharing is power” not “Knowledge is power.”

This knowledge sharing trend goes both ways – digital natives have more faith and trust in information from peers and those not involved in the company. Sites like Yelp would be an example of this. I know that’s the first place I turn to find a good restaurant in the area.

Interactions not Transactions

This is a generation that grew up steeped in digital currency – things like virtual world economies and itunes gift cards. This culture also includes social capital – things like ratings and reviews and followers on social sites.

Your library being on Twitter or Facebook is not enough – you need to respond and interact with your patrons. Michelle talked about Threadless which built it’s entire business on interaction with their customers!

Next example was from PBS and their Digital Nation project. And of course a library example from an library that does an incredible job of interacting with their patrons – Hennepin County Library and their BookSpace project I mentioned earlier.

Conclusion

There are many forward thinking organizations out there experimenting with the techniques necessary to engage digital natives and we need to start thinking about how to leverage the inclination of the digital native to share and interact is a great way for us to offset the costs of doing business in a tough economical time!! It also provides us with an opportunity to listen and do better business based on feedback from those who matter the most – our patrons.

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NFAIS 2009: Digital Natives and Traditional Information Resources

The last talk for day one of NFAIS Annual was titled Digital Natives and Traditional Information Resources. We had the pleasure of hearing from 3 digital natives about their expectations of and experiences with digital media.

First up was Carrie Newman, her talk was titled Perspectives of a Digital Native Librarian. She started by giving us proof that she’s a digital native – she bought John’s book (Born Digital) on Amazon, read about 10 pages and then sold it on Amazon. She then listed the tools she uses online:

  • Professional tools: Google, Wikipedia, WorldCat, Amazon, PubMed, engineering village, university library catalog
    • (research and collection development)
  • Personal research: Google scholar (first place I turn – because the library databases are not so good – the indexing is poor and the coverage isn’t that great – and they’re slow — so if I’m going to use something that isn’t that great it might as well be fast – Google), then some social science databases (out of guilt), citation mining, professional journals and talking to colleagues in person
  • Tools for collaboration: Google Docs, Delicious, Wikis, Skype, IM, Staff blog

Traditional Tools Versus New Tools

  • Traditional = slow/clunky, old, hard to use – but since she’s a librarian she knows how to use them and so does use them
    • best used for defined and complex research questions
  • New tools = chaotic poorly organized – but they’re fast so you’re willing to sit and sift through results

Given that, Carrie (and her patrons) uses new tools to narrow search results down and find keywords – then goes into traditional tools to get valuable resources.

Carrie gave us a definition of an ideal professional information resource:

  • excellent indexing – promote browsing (most tools that have good indexing – don’t have good browsing)
    • it turned out that she meant metadata management more than indexing
  • Many refine options – the ability to shrink your search down after you search a broad topic
  • Fast and easy to use – she said “that if it’s not fast, I’ll get bored and go use something else”
  • Smart – like Amazon – where it will auto recommend things to me (nice to have the ability to tag – but not necessarily see other’s tags)
    • an audience member brought up an interesting point about this after the face. While I agree that it would be nice to see things like this – the audience member said that she worried that this would lead to all students having the same resources in their papers instead of letting them do the research and come up with their own choices and opinions. I don’t know what the right answer is here …
  • Integrates seamlessly with bibliographic managers (Refworks, Endnote, Papers)
  • Programmable and automatable (email you new results – or RSS feed)
  • Broad coverage all in one place

Next up was Sabrina Manville from Ithaka with her talk titled From Campus to Cubicle.

Sabrina worked on a study to see how students were using JSTOR (assumptions same as others we’ve heard – “they use the internet for everything, what instant gratification, value social networking and other virtual communication).

Here’s what they heard from students:

  • want to find sources that their professors will accept “won’t laugh at”
  • east of use, convenience
  • plagiarism is a big concern – citing sources reassures professors that they did the actual research

How did students do their research

  • search engine are key (didn’t know about google scholar and so they were just using google)
  • when searching students move from broad to narrow
  • readability and speed are important (google is mindless – whereas it takes a lot of effort to get on JSTOR)
  • they did hear alot about quality and what it is

The good thing they found was that students knew what to look for for quality information

  • .edu and .gov domains
  • what it cites
  • writing style and grammatical correctness
  • aesthetic element was of great importance – old or out-dated websites are looked down upon – ads are very unwelcome as are other distractions when doing academic work (it’s possible they didn’t know that google text ads and the text ads on facebook are ads – or maybe they have blockers in place like i do in my browser)

Issues that undergraduates said they had with doing research on JSTOR

  • searching is a challenge – students said search results were hard to penetrate; they are eager for tools which will help them narrow the results further

When asked if they would they want web 2.0 functionality in their resources? The answer was yes – but not 100%.

  • they liked the concept of MyJSTOR
  • didn’t want to find other people doing the same research
  • facebook is for my friends and i don’t want that in my research
  • links are highly appreciated – between resources
  • suggested JSTOR develop
    • tagging
    • ranking based on usage
    • user reviews and articles
    • article suggestions like from (netflix and amazon)

Sabrina then gave us some insights into her professional experiences (the cubicle part of her title).

She wanted to start with some disclaimers. While she is a digital native, when she was in college (pre-2006)

  • Google was only search – no email or docs
  • Facebook was only college students
  • most friends didn’t read blogs
  • no iPhone or mobile web
  • no Twitter

When researching she looks for more current resources, so having tools that let her search current information are important. She doesn’t care whether and article is peer reviewed or not, as long as it provides valuable information (I’m with her on this). And like Carrie, she starts with Google and then moves on to the more specific resources.

The fact is that commercial sites have influenced our exceptions – Google, Amazon, Netflix, etc.

So, what can we do to improve the user experience?

  • many of these traits can be implemented fairly easily in traditional academic resources
  • provide better context for content
  • continue to increase scale and comprehensiveness, take advantage of user data
  • improving usability is a huge leap forward in itself!

Last up was Jason Hoyt a student at Stanford University with his talk titled The future of scholarly search, communication, sharing, databases.

He started by giving us an animated story about his research experiences. I say animated because he used some really fun slides. He found that he was being inefficient in his research using search, communication, sharing, databases. He would talk to people, going online look for information, go back to talking to people – it was wasting too much time. And so, Jason’s call is for collective intelligence – he wants these 4 things (search, communication, sharing and databases) to talk to each other and then talk to us and give us the information we’re looking for.

One example of a site that does this well is kayak.com – in a single search the best price, travel time, departure, or arrival can be prioritized across multiple databases – (mashup of multiple databases) this is collective intelligence — using Kayak’s API you can pull out even more information to remix.

He showed us some graphs that displayed how hard it is to keep up with our areas of research. In the 50s the researcher could do their own research and keep up with the learning curve, but today we can’t do that – there is way too much information to keep up with it all. Jason listed a series of applications and put them into either the ‘traditional tools’ category or the ‘new tools’ category (I couldn’t keep up with all of them – so hopefully he puts his slides online for us all to see.

He did an informal study and asked people to rate the importance of a series of tools in their day-to-day work:

  • Google, PubMed, open access were the top three – most important (equal for all ages)
  • the under 30 crowd thought social networks were more important than the older researchers

So, why so people use social networks?

  • networking outside of the lab – find jobs, new idea, and form collaborations
  • for the most part people thought it wasn’t mainstream enough and that conferences were a better way to make new connections

When asked “what do you think would benefit the world community of researchers more, open access or improved meta search?” 70% said open access.

Jason (and I agree) thinks that the key to success is to build something to integrate traditionally individual talks with a crowd (collective intelligence). The traditional players need to work towards new business models that can sustain open access (like PLoS). In the meantime we need to provide better APIs and XML formats for machine readable searches (OTMI – open text mining interface). And lastly, continue hosting these kinds of conferences so that we can all talk about what we do to improve our search experiences.

After these three were done with their talks, we were able to ask the panel questions – to me it seems like throwing the lambs to the wolves. I’ve been in that seat before and I have to say that the traditional publishers and vendors are very scared of words like ‘open access.’ One audience member asked how they could sustain their businesses if they gave their content away for free – I don’t have the answer – but I know it’s possible because others are doing it. Another person said that she wasn’t hearing anything new from these speakers – except that they were introducing the 3 Fs – Free, Facebook, Fast – she wanted to know what we (the digital natives) were doing differently from her generation in terms of research. The panel wasn’t sure how to answer her, so I did. I told her that she’s right, we’re not doing anything differently – mainly because the tools aren’t there for us to do anything differently – they’re the same tools she learned on and used. The point of the talk was to show people what we want in our research tools – not what we have right now.

Overall, a great first day – and now it’s time to head out to day two!

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NFAIS 2009: Google Generation

Ian Rowlands presented a talk titled, The Information Behavior of Researchers of the Future: Survey Results. Ian started by saying that he was happy that John was optimistic before him – because it lets him be a bit more anxious and less complacent about where we’re going on our own digital journey. He talked about a study he did with JISC and the British Library to discuss what happens in 2017 – when the first of the digital native generation start to hit the big research libraries like the British Library?

That said, it was very hard to do this study because in 2017 technologies will be different and we’ll be different. One of the questions that rose from this fact was is there a real difference between the Google Generation and earlier generations at the same point in their development? When we talk about young people we have to think back to when we were young and what values we had and the ways we used libraries and the skills that we had.

This is one of the reasons that it is very dangerous to stereotype an entire generation. He pointed out a study by Synovate in 2007 that found that only 27% of young people live up to images of total IT immersion – for most (57%) ‘technology was not a badge to be worn, but something that had value’ once its functional usefulness has been demonstrated – 20% are ‘digital dissidents.’ And another study by Ofcom (in the UK) that same year found that over-65s spend 4 hours a week longer online than 18-24s. Another stereo type was that the “old people” use manuals and “young people” just play until it works, but an Ofcom study in 2006 showed that it’s actually the opposite, young people will read the manual and older people will get annoyed with the manual and just try to use the device without reading.

All that said, he’s not saying that the Google Generation conception isn’t important – he’s saying that we’re all partially Google Generationalized. We’re making a big assumption based on when someone is born – why is it that libraries and information professionals spend so little time doing what other industries do – studies on actual use – they spend lots of money on user research – so why don’t we? One of his slides had a great quote “stereotype means to cast a person in a preset mold – to deny them individuality”

Research over 15 years shows

  • young people have difficulties formulating appropriate terms due to the use of natural language (how to build bird’s nests)
  • assume search engines understand sentences and questions
  • do not use advanced search facilities or navigation aids
  • have trouble generating alternative search terms / synonyms
  • often repeat the same search several times

Other issues

  • speed of young people’s web searching shows little time is spent in evaluating information
  • information seeking stops at the point where articles were simply found rather than perused
  • little regard is made to the text itself – only the presence/absence of words exactly matching search terms or a word in the title
  • an appropriate accompanying image also enough to confirm relevance

These problems have always been around – and many of them are not unique to young people! Once again, he reminded us, ‘We are all ‘Google Generation!’ and that we’re only 15 years into the digital library proper – and we’ve had over 5 millenia to deal with how to handle the hard copy and printed materials … in short, we’re still learning!

I do agree that we need to do some actual studies instead of just assuming that we know what our users want and that all “young people” think and research the same way.

Very interesting talk and some great points were made!

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NFAIS 2009: Keynote: Born Digital

John Palfrey, co-author to Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, was our keynote speaker.

First, what a great talk! I know that this book is on a lot of our wishlists or bookshelves, but nothing gets me more excited about a book than hearing the author speak. John started by telling us that the book studies and unpacks the myths about the digital natives

He started out by giving us some of the details of the study:

  • a wrong perception that most people seem to have is that all young people use technology the same way – and adults don’t use it at all
    • there are of course a group of people who do use these tools the same way – but that doesn’t mean that everyone does.
  • He/the study defines digital natives are : Born after 1980 – have access to technologies (so this does not include young people in poorer countries) – have the skills and know how to use these technologies in enhanced ways

He then explained the Digital Landscape for us by asking what does it mean to have this constant connectivity – a phone, PDA, laptop – something always on us.  He talked about how digital natives have merged their real identity with their digital identity – there is just one identity – it’s a sense that it’s just as important what you put online as what you put on to wear in the morning – they live in a converged environment.  According to the guidelines for this study – I’m not a Digital Native – but I do see my digital identity this way.  For me, I work in a virtual office and so I only have my digital identity to go on in my professional life – until someone invites me to speak to their group in person.

Next, multi-tasking – “it’s not a distraction it’s interaction”.  John spoke of his students in a class at Harvard Law School – everyone is looking into their laptop – it’s hard as a professor to see everyone paying attention to their laptop instead of the professor.  The discomfort aside, according to some studies this is not actually good for education.  That said, some multi-tasking is task-switching – which is two tasks at once switching back and forth rapidly – which is actually good for productivity and education.

He also found that young people have a presumption that everything they deal with will come in digital format.  He told the story of his 3 year old asking where you see the picture on a digital camera – something he and his wife bought on a trip because they forgot their digital camera.  To further this point, YouTube is the number 2 search engine in the world – behind Google

John continues that that’s just part of the story – in addition to presuming it’s digital, they presume that it’s social – they’re not just blogging for themselves – they’re not taking pictures for themselves, but to upload them to Flickr or Facebook to share with everyone. He gave a great example of this from his organization.  They asked on the web for a logo and got over 170 entries without offering a prize – people just wanted to participate.

In addition to being users of digital technologies, digital natives are very often the entrepreneurs and creators of these technologies – Facebook for example.  Because of this, there is a very rapid feedback loop between the developers, the consumers and the business people (see the most recent Facebook policy change suggestion – and then withdrawal).

The last issue he addressed regarding the landscape was that people are very good at working collaboratively – across geographic and virtual boundaries (working with Google Office etc) and we under-leverage this as teachers.

Addressing Perceived Threats

  • Security
    • stranger danger, bullying, hacking (bullying is probably the biggest threat)
  • Privacy
    • young people share too much about themselves online – this is not a myth
    • they have a sense of security that is probably false
  • Intellectual property
    • young people don’t pay for their music – not a myth he can bust – it is the case for 9 out of 10 people they asked
    • they know that it is illegal, but that it’s still okay to do – they’re sticking it to the man
    • rights to remix/reuse – not surprisingly they had no idea what the laws were on this issue
    • copyright 200 years ago was the domain of publishers – now it’s relevant to everybody
    • He showed us The Ballad of Zach McCune
  • Credibility of information
    • misinformation, cheating, hidden influences
    • the threat of Wikipedia
    • when asked where they went for information – it was always “I would go to Google, look at the top 10 results and find the Wikipedia article and go to it”
    • there were some kids who thought that it was crap – that their classmates were there before them and changed the page to screw them up
    • kids don’t read the newspaper – or watch the news – we know that they get information from lots of different sources – and are they able to sort through them and filter properly?

John ended with a positive outlook for each of the points above:

  • in the context of safety and security – kids are learning new media literacy skills
  • intellectual property issue – actually leads to creativity in kids-  they’re creating new things
  • kids are participating in a global knowledge creating  endeavor – a lot of cross culture learning
  • kids have access to more information than ever before

It’s hard to see how we go from here – the time of great disruption to where we have this amazing resource – but he thinks that young people can help us.  Check out DigitalNative.org to learn more or watch move videos related to the book on YouTube.

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In Defense of Gen Y Workers

Found via Stephen’s Lighthouse:

I grew up turning in my homework assignments online and using online chat rooms as study groups with fellow classmates. And it worked for me. It worked real well. I love the Internet, online communication and Facebook because these technologies allow me to do what I do best: multitask. Since I've been trained by and with these new technologies, I am"”face it"”better suited for the new work environment than you old folk. Even you old folk are beginning to realize that collaboration is a better way to leverage information to produce services, products, whatever. But while you think of collaboration theoretically, I live it and breathe it. And, unlike you, change doesn't bother me. I love it.

This quote is from an article in CIO entitled In Defense of Gen Y Workers by Jarina D'Auria CIO Magazine's 21 year old Editorial Assistant.

The first commenter seems offended by Jarina’s tone throughout the article – but it made me laugh and Stephen who I think will admit is one of the “old folk” that Jarina mentions loved it too! The fact is that while Jarina’s generalizations about “old folk” are a form of turn-around. We’re constantly hearing that Gen Yers are spoiled, lazy, etc etc etc. And maybe that’s true of some just like maybe some of the “old folk” can’t use computers – but I’ve seen plenty of Boomers in the library world making amazing strides at innovation and learning technologies that I’ve never even heard of!

So – if you’re going to read Jarina’s article – don’t take offense – instead listen to what she’s saying about herself and learn from it – and remember that not all Gen Yers are the same – just as not all Boomers are the same.

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Do we give them enough credit?

I don’t know the answer to this, but it seems to me that people all over feel that undergrads today have no idea how to use the library or library resources. I got the impression from an attendee at the NFAIS Humanities Rountable last month that he felt that students were too lazy or that they just didn’t understand real research. Then at my training class on Friday an attendee there said that her students can never find things and she just wants to make it as easy as possible – she felt that seeing a link to a resource and a call number for that same resource was too much information for their tiny little heads to bother with.

Now – was it just because I was destined to be a librarian that I knew how to use these tools when I was an undergrad … was it because my mother showed me how to use library resources as early as middle school by taking me to the local university to use their collections for my research? Was it that Juniata offered and intro to library resources type course (it wasn’t just that – it had more meat to it – but it did have a bit on the library)?

I don’t know the answer – but I get a bit annoyed with the dismissive attitude towards undergrads. I think we need to give them more credit – or teach them better/sooner how to use these tools. And yes, they’re lazy – but news flash – human beings are lazy! We want the easiest/quickest way to get the solution – but that doesn’t mean that all undergrads are a lost cause …

Just a little Monday afternoon rant from me (the librarian in the academic library without many undergrads).

More on the Millennial Worker

I was looking for a page defining what a Millennial was for a friend and I came across this article from 2 years ago that I think hits the nail on the head – not for her purposes, but for mine. The article is from http://www.ltimagazine.com/ltimagazine and it’s titled “Millennial” Learning: On Demand Strategies for Generation X and Beyond.

The article talks about what employers need to provide in order to keep their Millennial employees.

According to the staffing firm Spherion, five core factors significantly influence whether employees stay or go: culture and work environment, compensation, supervisor role, and – the two retention drivers indicating employers need to focus on employee development – training and development, and growth and earning potential. Spherion’s study indicates employers are scoring low with workers in these areas. Today’s new breed of workers requires an adapted approach to employee development.

In order to build suitable training for today’s learner, organizations must tailor training by addressing key characteristics of this new breed. Research reveals that today’s younger worker values:

  • Relevant development
  • Rich experiences
  • Flexibility
  • Community
  • Technology
  • Instant results

(Emphasis added by me)

I’ve had this very conversation with many Millennials (including myself). We want to learn – at least those I talk to want to learn (there are always black sheep). There is always this mentality among employers that if you train someone to do something new, they’re going to leave and do that something somewhere else – and that is a risk, but at the same time, if I’m not allowed to learn something new (which I am!) then I’m going to look elsewhere.

Just an interesting little article I thought I’d share with you all.

Which is it?

Are we slackers or are we tough cookies? Can we really be both? What am I talking about? I just read this article from Fortune on Attracting the 20-something worker.

One minute I’m happy to be a 20-something (even if I am closer to 30 than 20 now) – and the next I want to bury my head in the sand. This is a great article, even though it made me want to wring the author’s (who turned out to be a 20-something herself) neck sometimes.

The good (as I see it):

They’re ambitious, they’re demanding and they question everything, so if there isn’t a good reason for that long commute or late night, don’t expect them to do it. When it comes to loyalty, the companies they work for are last on their list – behind their families, their friends, their communities, their co-workers and, of course, themselves.

“This is the most high-maintenance workforce in the history of the world,” says Bruce Tulgan, the founder of leading generational-research firm RainmakerThinking. “The good news is they’re also going to be the most high-performing workforce in the history of the world. They walk in with more information in their heads, more information at their fingertips – and, sure, they have high expectations, but they have the highest expectations first and foremost for themselves.”

To get noticed by Gen Yers, a company also has to have what they call a “vision.” They aren’t impressed by mission statements, but they are looking for attributes that indicate shared values: affinity groups, flat hierarchies, divestment from the more notorious dictatorial regimes.

No one joins a company hoping to do the same job forever. But these days even your neighborhood bartender or barista aspires to own the place someday.

And twentysomethings can thrive when given real responsibility. Mark Meussner, a former Ford manager, remembers one instance when, faced with a serious manufacturing problem and two young engineers begging for the chance to solve it, he took a chance on them. He gave them one more-experienced person as a counselor, and they made what he estimates was a $25 million impact by solving a problem that had proved intractable for a decade. The success spawned a slate of company-sponsored initiatives led by more-junior staffers. Says Meussner: “We need to use 100 percent of an employee – not just their backs and minds, but their innovation, enthusiasm, energy and fresh perspective.”

The bad (as I see it):

When it comes to Gen Y’s intangible characteristics, the lexicon is less than flattering. Try “needy,” “entitled.” Despite a consensus that they’re not slackers, there is a suspicion that they’ve avoided that moniker only by creating enough commotion to distract from the fact that they’re really not that into “work.”

Never mind that they often need an entire team – and a couple of cheerleaders – to do anything. For some of them the concept “work ethic” needs rethinking.

“If we don’t like a job, we quit,” says Jason Ryan Dorsey, the 28-year-old author of 2007’s “My Reality Check Bounced!,” “because the worst thing that can happen is that we move back home. There’s no stigma, and many of us grew up with both parents working, so our moms would love nothing more than to cook our favorite meatloaf.”

Subha Barry, global head of diversity, recalls running into a colleague having lunch with a potential summer recruit and someone she didn’t know. It turned out to be the boy’s mother.

“If somebody would have said to me, ‘You’re interviewing for a job somewhere, and you’re going to bring your mother to the closing, decision-making lunch,’ I would’ve said, ‘You’ve got to be crazy,'” she says, wagging a finger. “But I tell you, his mother was sold. And that boy will end up at Merrill next summer. I can guarantee that.”

The silly (as I see it):

The kids – self-absorbed, gregarious, multitasking, loud, optimistic, pierced – are exactly what the boomers raised them to be, and now they’re being themselves all over the business world.

Gen Yers always seem to be at the gym. More than a third of 18- to 25-year-olds surveyed by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press have a tattoo, and 30 percent have a piercing somewhere besides their earlobe. But those are considered stylish, not rebellious.

And speaking of fashion, this isn’t a group you’ll catch in flannel. They’re all about quiet kitsch – a funky T-shirt under a blazer, artsy jewelry, silly socks – small statements that won’t cause trouble.

The fact is – that through the generalizations (I have no tattoos, no piercings other than ears, I do own and wear flannel, my mother did not come on any interviews with me, and quitting my job and moving home is not an option) a pretty good picture comes out of this article. We’re ambitious, we’ll work if you let us, we’ll speak our minds and we have our priorities straight (family always come before work – no matter what!).

It’s a good read – and I’ve only given you a tiny piece of it here – so, feel free to read it for yourself.