Generation gap: birth age versus media age

by Jay Cross on July 30, 2007

You are as old as the sort of media you read.

Author Penelope Trunk writes, “If you want to know how old you really are, look at the media you use rather than the generation you were born into.” My friend Kevin Wheeler, who’s about my age, recently made presentations to recruiters and talent executives in two towns: Minneapolis and Toronto. “How many of you blog?” No one in Minneapolis; a third of the group in Toronto. “How many of you read blogs?” A couple in Minneapolis; a majority of the group in Toronto.

Having been on a steady diet of web feed for a long time now, I can’t imagine doing without it. Dave Winer’s blog notified me of 9/11; I ran to the tube and saw the towers collapse. I scavenge from articles instead of reading them. I’ve blogged for more than seven years, have set up dozens of wikis, and give frequent webinars. Still, I’m probably not as e-media-literate as the average thirteen-year old.

Penelope’s blog offers a test to determine your media age. Try it if you dare. And then think about how you’re going to collaborate with newcomers with a younger media age.

    Do you have your own web page? (1 point)
    Have you made a web page for someone else? (2 points)
    Do you IM your friends? (1 point)
    Do you text your friends? (2 points)
    Do you watch videos on YouTube? (1 point)
    Do you remix video files from the Internet? (2 points)
    Have you paid for and downloaded music from the Internet? (1 point)
    Do you know where to download free (illegal) music from the Internet? (2 points)
    Do you blog for professional reasons? (1 point)
    Do you blog as a way to keep an online diary? (2 points)
    Have you visited MySpace at least five times? (1 point)
    Do you communicate with friends on Facebook? (2 points)
    Do you use email to communicate with your parents? (1 point)
    Did you text to communicate with your parents? (2 points)
    Do you take photos with your phone? (1 point)
    Do you share your photos from your phone with your friends? (2 points)

0-1 point – Baby Boomer
2-6 points – Generation Jones
6- 12 points – Generation X

I’m happy to say I’m a Gen Y although by the skin of my teeth. And you?

How do you fix a stalled computer?
Ask any ten year old.

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