The Saeculum Decoded
A Blog by Neil Howe
Feb 222010

Though I’m quoted several times in this article, I don’t really agree much with its conclusions.  As you may know, I tend to downplay the central and causal role attributed to technology by so many generational “theorists.”  More to the point, I pay a lot more attention to the way generations shape technology rather than the other way around.  But apparently that idea is a hard sell.  Listen especially to what many of these people say about the *length* of a generation.  Since they have no definition of what a generation is, nor any theory about how generations are formed, their observations here seem like stabs in the dark.

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  • ChicagoH

    I have to agree. As I read the article, I kept thinking they were really talking about Millennials. Then I realized that they are… late wave, maybe cusp, Millennials. And there is plenty of research to back up that these younger kids know when to turn technology off and just go play. They're just as likely to prefer drawing, painting and other creative pursuits as to watch television or play video games, mainly because overprotective parents have strict time allocations for each type of activity.

    Just a final thought; we saw “GenY” declared early, too… either marketers were all too ready to ditch GenXers, or they realized that constantly naming a “new” generation meant that they could sell new “insights.” Doesn't mean that the characteristics of these generations changed. The first GenY turned out to just be late-wave Xers, followed in due course by the Millennials. And now the Homelanders, beginning somewhere around 2002.

  • JPT

    If the term “iGeneration” catches on, I think Apple will want royalties. Or just stamp an Apple logo on their heads. Poor name choice IMO.

  • aadams1980

    I think we've seen evidence of generations shaping technology. As a late-wave Xer, we saw the internet as a tool for social fragmentation and independence. To the extent we used it to meet people it was usually to get a date. However, as the Millennials arrived on the scene they led the trend of online communities such as Facebook and Myspace. In spite of the millions of sites everyone congregates around the same two sites. Seems to me to be further evidence of technology being shaped by generations.