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The next generation's Internet

Paul 2008-03-19
Photo: Ashley Computing
I received this photo of my niece computing, and it prompted me to think about how the generation that's growing up now interfaces with the Internet.

Her generation will not have known a world without a global network of computers or pocketable Internet access devices/communicators that can get to anything or anyone, anywhere in an instant. It's quite a different world than we grew up in. It's great to see that she's already engaging in what will be her primary means of contact with her world.

Despite the influence of the previous generations, today's kids aren't growing up watching TV, they're interacting on the Net, in real-time 2-way communication. Participant, not consumer. Get this... Kids today think that email is for old folks! They prefer more interactive means, like synchronous communication (instant messaging), social networks (obtaining information via the influence of friends and their friends and their friends, ...) and real-time multi-party collaboration. It's quite amazing to see them go. Their brains were wired for this kind of thing from the beginning and they are master multi-taskers. They handily carry on three to five conversations simultaneously, while browsing the web in multiple tabs, having many sites open at once, while actively choosing and listening to some music.

They're able to contextualize it all at once and handle multiple information inflows and outflows simultaneously, without stumbling. I can't do that, despite computing since I'm 10. But mine were linear interfaces. Do one thing at a time and wait for it to finish, then move on. For them, the infinity of information is accessible synchronously and they have the tools to access and create them in multiples at a time. And they do.

The pace of change continues to accelerate. It's so great to see that she's starting to wire her brain so she can function in the world that awaits her.