Sunday, July 29, 2012

Talking About His (My) Generation

My oldest Erez is now 18, for a few years now he has been drawing on the generational divide between us as he makes his point about pop culture discussions. While I have a very different way of looking at the world I truly appreciate his point of view. It matters because this is how our students learn and if we do not adapt we will stop being relevant.

More than anything else I learned from Erez how to flow with change. He is an early adopter of new ways of doing and social media. At the same time he is an early deserter of new technologies as they wear thin.
This is how I observe the cycle. First he finds a new technology, a few years back it was StumbleUpon. For a few months Erez was on StumbleUpon everyday for a few others. In fact he stumbled so much that the service told him they were out of new webpages to share with him. For a while he continued visiting occasionally but now he rarely uses it anymore if at all.

So, contrary to commonly held beliefs, his generation does problems with attention. Instead they just use attention differently. It seems that he has learned to concentrate on one problem very intensely for short period of time and develop expertise that is very local. Once, however, that the technology has been mastered and maximized attention shifts quickly to something else. Considering the current and projected rates of change in technology it seems to be a very effective strategy- that holds no emotional or cognitive ties to a specific technology. Instead concentrates on maximizing short term benefits (even if they are social) and then moving to the next technology.

Erez adds:
I find it exciting to discover new ways to manipulate technologies that I am given. As before mentioned I master different technologies and move on. Though sometimes rather than move to a different technology I just modify the one I am given. For example after playing Fallout New Vegas non-stop until I finished, rather than immediately move on I stayed with FNV and installed mods which modify the game whether it be graphics or actual gameplay. This allowed me to be comfortable in the fact that I had basic knowledge of the technology, but now I have a new technology to master.

Frankly I am reminded of a book from a time when I still read books, I Robot by Isaac Asimov. In this book robots are powered by a brain that has become so complex that all the scientists are unsure of how its basics work, rather they just add on to it. I believe this is where my future is headed, the mods I have on FNV will have mods, and those mods will have more mods and so on and so forth until the original game no longer resembles what I play now. However, no one will complain because no one remembers the original, not because it's taken a long time, but rather because no one was attached to it like my father says above, "no emotion or cognitive ties to a specific technology." In truth I am unsure if this is a good thing that will continue until we have super robots, or a bad thing that will see us hit a capacity of understanding and watch the latest generation struggle to stay focused on one technology for a long time. Anyways, all we can do is wait and see.

Last word from Guy:
I find it interesting that Erez's goto metaphor is from gaming. I was thinking about it as I wrote my piece but was wondering if I was stretching the concept too far. Apparently it was not far enough.

Thank you to Erez for being a co-Blogger

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