Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Cynical and Detached New Year?

Happy new year from Sphereless, 2007 looks like it's going to be an interesting one.

Old article from BusinessWeek last month: Who Likes Consumer Generated Ads? Not Young Adults
Survey respondants between the ages of 18 and 24 are more likely than those between the ages of 25 and 64 to say a company that uses customer-created advertising is less trustworthy, less socially-responsible and less customer-friendly.
What does this mean for the future of user-centric services and for involvement in politics (where the same trust/distrust balance-split is likely to occur in some form)? If the younger generation are more cynical when large organisations and corporations "reach out", is it likely that they'll turn instead to more "local", smaller groups?

Of course, while small may be beautiful, there's nothing to say that small is reputable. (But then, there's nothing to say that big is either...) But that's the nature of life. What small does mean is that these things get harder to track, as scale and evolution (jumping from one small group to another, and the creation/dissolution therein) increase the complexity, mirroring that of the networks coming into play.

From an Academic (capital A) point of view, this is annoying :) as it makes it difficult to really understand what's actually happening in reality. From a non-Academic point of view, though, I can only hope that this combination of cynicism with scepticism ultimately benefits us. The danger is that we (as an "older", "involved" generation?) continue to ignore the complexity, either by assuming that the world fits into a 2- or 3-party (FPTP) election system, or by assuming that a limited range of ideas are effective for an incerasingly "connected" audience.

The discussion of containing technology and making it available to the masses is part of this assumption, IMHO. The discussion that isn't happening is the underlying relationship, between the increasingly complex (yet still "designed") nature of the technology being harnessed, and the "consumption" nature of the apparently increasingly detached youth. In a way, this harks back to science education, which is really merely symbolic of this divided relationship that we have yet to address in any meaningful manner.

In other words, should the "public" be able to use the technology, or should it be able to understand it?

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