Technology and Generation Gaps

on Jan 23, 2010

There’s no question that technology creates gaps between generations. Simply put, this occurs when one generation of people uses and understands technology in a very different way than another generation.

A NYT article brings up the interesting point that our technology is evolving so rapidly that the years between generation gaps is dwindling. A very illuminating example is that of the author’s 2-year-old child calling her father’s Kindle a book. The child sees the device for the purpose it serves, not for its physical design. One friend, upon hearing this story, said that “that’s wrong” while another said “…but I like the feel of the pages”. When making these statements, these friends (who happened to be in their early 20s) didn’t understand that they were already falling behind in the way technology was understood. The next generation of people, scarily only a decade or two younger than us, will define how technology is used. Physical books will be archaic. Virtual keyboards, like that of the iphone, will be the only ones that make sense.

But what if you like the feel of a physical keyboard better? Too bad! The next generation will have no such attachment (and will have difficulty understanding why you do). The only way to keep up with technology is to adapt. That means throwing away all your early notions and preferences and taking up new, better technologies (carefully of course) the way younger people do. The stakes are higher than ever because the changes are occurring faster than before. You won’t be middle aged before you’re out of the loop. You’ll be in your twenties!

If you see this coming, then what emerging technologies must we be quick to adapt? Or if you think this is all wrong, share your counter-arguments below.