Young people are no longer interested in technology and that’s a problem
Earlier this year I found a very interesting article on report of young people to computers. An article in which Jean-Noël Lafargue, researcher and teacher in new media points to a reality which goes against received ideas but whose veracity can be verified every day in the field.
It tells us, basically, that the younger generations are much less interested in computers and competent in the field than what we want to say and, more often, are even less than the previous generations. We are talking about technical skills, not user skills.
Here’s why this is both good news and bad news.
IT is gone, people are using it
You are only interested in technology when it is young and in its infancy. As the article says very well, there was a time when you had to be a bit of a mechanic when you had a car. Today we use our car without having to understand how it works.
The same is true with computers. For those like me who had their first contact with a computer in the 80s, you had to know how to get your hands dirty, understand how the OS worked, how the hardware worked, essential to solve problems and to invent new ones. uses.
At that time there was no Internet, no content galore (or no content) so we had to find some use for the computer, make it do something useful, otherwise it would take over. dust in a cabinet.
And then the applications have multiplied, the Internet has favored their distribution and their total or partial free, the mass of content created every day is more than enough to occupy all our time and our attention. Besides that the power of the hardware has made a big leap forward, the reliability of the OS too.
Technology has become mature, we use it, it disappears behind its uses. Nobody cares about how it works anymore. It works seamlessly and that’s all that matters.
The Geek has become a lazy consumer
The computer and its avatars, which are phones and tablets, have become as much tools for consultation as for production. Before, the machine had to “do” something, today, with the Internet, it just has to allow us to access content to satisfy a need. Facebook and social networks in general are the perfect example. These tools do almost nothing except give us access to content circulated through our networks. This is enough to occupy our attention and our available brain time… or even to make us want to create more time for ourselves at the expense of tasks that are nevertheless more important. What most of the web giants sell to their customers is their ability to hold our attention in any way, even against our own needs and goals. This will also be the subject of a future post.
In short, the user of the computer tool has become gentrified. He consumes passively without wondering how it all works or what it all contributes to. The Geek has over time become a lazy consumer. He doesn’t do anymore, he enjoys.
When we no longer need to understand the how we focus on the what and we become spoiled children.
The “uses” generation
And that’s a great thing. From the moment the barrier to entry has disappeared, IT has become a mass market offering almost limitless possibilities to companies that use it in their business.
Those who experienced the first dot-com bubble will probably recognize that while the ideas were far from bad the big problem was their monetization. Supermarkets were built without customers or connection to the road network (understand: not everyone used a computer at home and the bandwidth was catastrophically slow). In the mid-2000s the Web became useful, usable and used for the success we know today.
Which brings us to a real generational paradox. The new generations are natively more comfortable with the tools than the previous ones (it must also be said that great progress has been made in terms of ergonomics and user experience) but have no idea how it works and have no desire to be interested in it.
We are dealing with a “generation of uses” whose digital literacy is much higher on average than that of previous generations. On the other hand, the (low) proportion of previous generations who took an interest in the subject is infinitely more competent when it comes to thinking about the “how”. One of my contacts, a teacher in a high school, made the following remark to me: “your generation thought ERP and CRM, today they want to create media and content. You all knew how to “tinker” on a server, self-taught, they couldn’t care less. It is simply proof that the world has changed and that technology is no longer a subject ”.
Yes. But it may become so again soon and not necessarily for reasons that we will appreciate.
We have become digital lazy and we risk paying it
If at one point technology ceased to be a subject, it is because many people got down to it very hard. The technology has not disappeared, it has simply been thought out in conjunction with the uses. And if fewer and fewer people are worrying about it, it’s a safe bet that in a few years we will find ourselves with big problems of use.
As the article says, geeks are less and less geeks (or are it differently), hackers as we have known them are so rare that even the US army which must recruit a certain number of them. can’t find any more. And as for the “old ones” they have also fallen into a kind of laziness since everything is now working well. But between a generation that falls asleep and, in any case, will have to hand it over one day and another that loses interest in these subjects, we risk one day finding ourselves in a dead end.
As I said at the beginning of the year, one of the greatest risks weighing on the digital transformation of companies and more generally on the digital economy is this propensity, each year stronger, to favor form over substance. This might explain that.
Bertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader in Emakina. He was previously consulting director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.
He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.
Read also: What young people expect from technology by 2025