GWU Issues Management

A blog established for the George Washington University School of Political Management's Issues Management course.

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Location: Washington, D.C., United States

A middle aged white guy, who likes to think, talk and, too infrequently, write about politics, religion and gadgets.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

You Are the Millennium Generation, What Does that Mean?

At its core, issues management is about communication. While the list of corporate functions involved in issues management is extensive, as I indicated in last week's class, issues are managed almost exclusively through communications. We are in the early stages of a communications revolution whose implications can only be guessed. But this revolution has huge implications for issues management and it's important for practioners to know where things are heading. Clues about the future exist in how your generation uses communications in your daily life. An article in the Sunday New York Times analyzes this phenomenon by describing the daily lives of some selected "millennials." Millennials are described as the generation born between 1980 and 2000. The significance of this generation is that it is the first generation who have never known life without the Internet and other new communications technologies. So, how millennials use these communications technologies are very suggestive of how everyone will use them in the years to come.

Here's my question: How does this compare with your daily life? Which of these communications technologies do you regularly use? Ipods, text messaging, instant messaging, TiVo, etc. etc.? Does this group accurately represent you or your contemporaries? Or is it different in Washington?

Here's where you can teach me. I consider myself an early adopter, at least for my generation. I have a blog (besides this one). I have an Ipod (which has changed my life). But, while my fifteen year old son is an inveterate instant messenger, I've never picked up that particular technology.

So, tell me, does this article, (link pasted below), tell the truth about your generation?

A Generation Serves Notice: It's a Moving Target - New York Times: "'We think that the single largest differentiator in this generation from previous generations is the social network that is people's lives, the part of it that technology enables,' said Jack McKenzie, a senior vice president at Frank N. Magid Associates, a market research and consulting firm specializing in the news media and entertainment industries. "


Blogger Princeton Dem said...

To answer the first part(s) of your question, I have used almost all of the technologies in the article at one time or another. I also agree that there is something of a generational gap with technologies like instant messaging or texting. My parents, for example, can barely remember to charge their cell phones, nevermind start their own blogs.

I think the more powerful, and troubling, idea simmering beneth the text of the article is whether or not this generation will use this new technlogy for anything besides playing games and exchanging meaningless facts.

The article's Mr. Hanson, a reality TV star turned Internet mogul, doesn't read print newspapers because they are "so clunky and big." I suppose that's true, but it's not a very inspiring reason to rely on new technology. And he still seems to read the same content, just in a different form. I'm not convinced yet that simply looking online rather than offline for the same information represents a fundamental change, rather than a stylistic one.

I'm sure that last point will be hotly contested by the next poster...

6:40 AM  
Blogger nkatona said...

Technology is booming all around us, but I have to admit I am one of the slow ones on the uptake. The internet didn't become a daily tool for me until I gained constant access in college. Once I was able to begin using this technology it became a integral part of my life! Instant messanging became a must, and doing research online was a procrastinator's dream. With that being said there are still many things about technology that I do not get or haven't yet utilized.

Blogs, iPods, webcasting, and other things that require some technological skill elude me. At times I feel advanced, but when talking to people younger than me I feel lost. I have my favorite 6 websites that I go to religiously and have very little skill to move outside of that comfort zone. Is it because I am stupid or slow?...I certainly hope not...I think it has more to do with the fact that I am able to function on minimal technology.

Sure I can't live without my cell phone or my computer, but I have been asked several times by my mother if I want an iPod and I always say no because I don't want to deal with the downloading of songs. I am asked why I don't religiously update my blog, and the answer is I don't have that much to talk about and do I really want everyone and anyone to read it? No.

As a proud member of the millenium generation I would have to agree that yes many in my generation are moving down the avenue of technology, however, despite Mr. Hanson's view, there are still some of us that are behind the trend. I do appreciate the things that technology can do for me, but majority of the time I don't understand it!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Johnny Utah said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Johnny Utah said...

A Blackberry, which I use every day, is invaluable for communicating in the climate of instant news. Its benefit can be found in allowing you to be connected when you are on the road or during non-traditional business hours --- a must for anyone operating in the political arena, where the idea of banker’s hours is a farce.

Sure, technology improvements add convenience to one’s life. But the most troubling aspect of this move to a fully digital era is the simple joy of casually perusing the Sunday Paper, spread across the kitchen table, while consuming numerous cups of coffee that many in this new generation will miss out on. A lifeless computer screen will never replicate the real deal of print-and-ink newspapers. Newspapers mean legitimacy. Also, reading a news piece online cannot communicate the importance of placement (Above the fold? Buried inside?), layout (Does the story jump? To where?), headline emphasis (Banner headline? 10 pt. font?). All of these facets of a story, which factor into how important a story is viewed, do not translate to the Internet world. Another causality of going digital.

7:33 AM  
Blogger roscoe p coldchain said...

It's interesting to read this snap-shot of millennials. I just miss being a member of this group and definitely have felt that divide.

I had never instant messaged before my current job, where it is a requirement for office communication. Shocked looks greeted my admission of technological ineptness. When I was in college, no one used it - cell phones did the job just fine.

I still haven't used IM at home and I plan on resisting as long as possible!

Johnny Utah has a great point about story placement, etc. in newspapers and how that conveys the importance of each piece. It's an easy way to filter what's important that gets lost on the net. (JU - were you an all-conference QB in college?)

8:19 AM  
Blogger skeeba said...

Here's an article I saw today that can have some implications to our discussion yesterday.

It is only a matter of time before the blog phenomenon, which spawned Podcasts, will further spawn video blogs and video podcasts. Would a video blog be called a "vlog" or the phoenetically challenging, "vblog"?

12:02 PM  
Blogger skeeba said...

Per our discussion last night about the validity of web searches and the popularity of Wikipedia.

1:53 PM  
Blogger green elephant said...

I haven't expanded my use of new technologies much since my original introduction several years ago. I started using the internet in sixth grade. Throughout my teen years I used IRC frequently and designed a number of hollow websites.

As of now, I use only a basic cell phone, as a landline replacement, and AIM. I've never been drawn to new gadgets like mp3 players or desperate enough to fork out the cash for plasma screens.

I've always been quite comfortable with online communication. In fact, the 3-week roadtrip I planned this past summer was undertaken with 2 online contacts. One I had known for 7 years but had never spoken to. We knew each other well enough that there weren't any conflicts through the trip.

I think people within the millennial generation are more comfortable with using new technologies as long as they make tasks easier or augment their social network. Beyond their practicality, I've noticed many millennials are interested in the novelty of new gadgets and media formats. If a person doesn't want to be constantly reachable or fit in technologically, there's not much reason to compel them past the basics. The article seems to have highlighted exceptional cases in which those two factors made a difference (in part).

4:53 PM  
Blogger Wal-Mart Walter III said...

Technology has undoubtedly been changing the world we live in for the past 50 years. Over the past decade advancements in technology have started to touch all aspects of our lives. There are few who can avoid using email throughout a day of work never mind the latest 24/7 reality of the Blackberry. More and more people are using technology for social purposes, i.e. instant messaging or Even academia has embraced these technological advancements; using Lexis Nexis for research purposes or even blogging for “classroom” type discussions. In my opinion, the use of technology in daily life has become unavoidable. I also believe that we all must embrace this technology in today’s political environment regardless of which area of politics you might be involved (issues management/grassroots/direct lobbying). I will agree that there are some things technology will never be able to replace in daily life and in politics. However some can offer pretty convincing arguments that these “irreplaceable” aspects are slowly being overrun by technology. These next few years will be fun to live through and see for ourselves.

12:17 PM  
Blogger BlueGirl said...

I use pretty much all the technologies mentioned in the article. Although I would not consider myself to be a "techie" in any sense of the word.

While technology does make life more convenient, I do not like he idea of being accessible all the time. There is much to be said for peace and quiet!

I found that the generation mentioned in the article to be far too dependent on these new technologies. I am sure they won't ever pick up a newspaper or use books as research references. Yes, the Internet is fast and full of information - but how reliable is it?

7:36 AM  
Blogger Dollar Phil said...

I consider myself a bit of a Luddite, especially for my generation. I don't own a Blackberry, I don't like cell phones (or phones in general, for that matter), and I only visit a few Internet sites with sporadic regularity.

I'm starting to realize how ubiquitous information technology is. We all have cell phones, most of which have Internet access. We all use the Internet at work and now have some contact with the blogosphere. Yet I see my feeling in almost everyone's comments: nkantona, roscoe, green elephant, wal mart and blue girl all said they feel behind the times a little bit. Even among Millennials, it seems, there's a feeling that we're not keeping up.

10:14 AM  

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