Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Never Email Anyone Over 30

From Andrew McAfee's blog

Never Email Anyone Over 30

A while back I wrote a post speculating about the collaboration technologies today’s college students will expect to use when they enter the workforce. I guessed that today’s collegians will want to continue their use of social networking tools on the job—that they won’t consider these tools to be only suitable for ‘play time,’ but rather as important (integral?) parts of their day. More recently, I wrote a couple posts about Facebook, the social networking site that’s become wildly popular on many college campuses and is now penetrating the rest of society.

Frank Gilbane recently used Facebook itself to gather data about young people’s expectations for collaborationware. He made use of Facebook’s polling feature, which lets a member ask a single question, then specify the desired number of respondents and their demographics (gender, age, location, etc.). Facebook advertises the poll only to members who match these demographics, then summarizes responses as they come in and presents them to the asker. It looks like a nifty feature, and I might well use it myself.

Gilbane asked "Which collaboration technologies will you use most in your job in two years?" He first asked 25-34 year olds, then 18-24 year olds (500 of each).

The largest difference, and a statistically significant one, is that the younger crowd has less faith that email will continue to dominate. As a group, the 18-24 year olds plan to make more use of text messaging (a channel technology) and social networking sites (primarily a platform technology, although Facebook does allow communication over private channels). Interestingly, they seem less enthusiastic about instant messaging than does the older set.

Gilbane’s findings don’t result from a rigorously constructed and administered survey, but I still think they have validity. They correspond tightly with stories and anecdotes I’ve been hearing, from many quarters, about the generational shift in technology use. Evidence is mounting that younger people don’t think of the Internet as a collection of content that other people produce for them to consume. Instead, they think about it as a dynamic, emergent, and peer-produced repository to which they’re eager to contribute.

Will corporate Intranets be ready for them? Should they be?