Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Ne(x)t Generation

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Ne(x)t Generation

Article excerpt

In a follow-up to his 1998 best seller Growing Up Digital, author Don Tapscott revisits the kids who grew up on technology and the Internet as they become the most influential generation in history. Ten years later, Tapscott's new book, Grown Up Digital, explores characteristics of these digitized "prosumers," who expect to be involved in the products they consume. This generation is fundamentally different from all others before it, but Tapscott doesn't treat it like an insulated anomaly. This generation has already shaken up traditional institutions and will inevitably shape the future. In a conversation with CRM's Assistant Editor Jessica Tsai, Tapscott explains why we should forget the myths that technology is rotting their brains, or depriving them of social skills--in fact, it's doing just the opposite.


CRM magazine: You speak to two different audiences, those in the "Net Generation" and those on the outside. Did you have this dual audience in mind?

Don Tapscott: I started off writing to people who are not in the generation because I wanted them to understand how today's youth is different. They work, learn, collaborate, play, shop, and think differently than Gen X or the Baby Boomers, their parents. But as I got into it I found myself speaking to young people as well because the great historical challenge that we're going to have over the next period is overcoming the generation firewall that exists in our institutions and in society. That's going to require thoughtful behavior on the part of both generations.

CRM: Today's youth may be tech-savvy, and yet I've heard from high school teachers that their students know how to blog but don't know how to change the margins in Word.

Tapscott: Our old institutions die hard. A young lad [I met] just dropped out of a college course where he was studying communications. He said that the program wasn't relevant to him because they didn't view the Internet as part of communication. It was all focused on print, radio, [and] television. Young people today--typically, they don't watch a lot of television and they don't read newspapers. They get their news and entertainment from other sources.

My experience is that they learn it when they have to. You don't go study the Internet, you don't study Microsoft Word. When you have to use it, then you learn it--and learning it is a lot easier for them than it is for older generations.

CRM: You go in-depth to describe eight key values that shape this generation: choice, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, speed, entertainment, and innovation. …

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