Generalizations …


There has been a lot written about the advent of the digital native … of the generation Y (or was it Z, or an unknown alphabet after that?) folks entering the workforce, and forcing companies to move more and more towards media of interaction they are comfortable with. And, how they are so uncomfortable with email, and how they want their collaboration and communication immediate.

While this is one side of the story, there is the other side, as written about, for example, by Siva Vaidyanathan, about not all people being tech-savvy. Quite an interesting reading. One thing i believe in, and the reason why i have not written about the Gen-Y aspect of the boom in social computing, is that there is no such thing as a Gen-Y-er. I mean, each and every individual is distinct, and while there are statistical trends, these are at best averages, and the way i see it, far from the ground reality.

Let me explain … Lots of studies have been done … reams of data generated, and analyses published. Great! Question … how come i dont see too many studies coming out of China? Or India? These are two countries which are bringing the largest number of young people into the workforce. And, this is where the difference lies. In India, for example, there is no such thing as a Gen-Y. Sure, it is there as an abstraction … but, the digital divide is so huge, that it makes any kind of generalizations extremely harzardous, and i wouldnt make any predictions based on these generalizations. Sure, there are trends … But, how far are these percolating to every section of society? I am not too sure they are. Though, of course, I havent read much about China … would appreciate if anyone could point me to resources about the emergence of the Gen-Y in China?

Coming to the other part of this article … Where Siva writes about …

Many use Facebook and MySpace because they are easy and fun, not because they are powerful (which, of course, they are not).

Thing is, this again seems to be a generalization. First of all, this seems to be based on something which is not really logical. I quite agree that a lot of folks (including me, i suppose …) use facebook because its easy, and its fun! But, how does that imply that it is not powerful? Or, are the two unrelated? Even if they are, there seems to be an assumption that facebook is a tool which is of no utility at all. Mainly because its fun?

The way i see it, the utility of facebook is, in large part, due to its ease of use, and the fact that its fun. In a world like ours, where the distinction between the personal and professional spheres are no longer distinct from each other, we are seeing platforms which are making work more fun, and leisure a little less so (remember the last time you checked your work email on your Blackberry while on vacation, and you will know what i am talking about). Which is to say that there should be no relationship interpreted, between the fun factor and utility.

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