Tagged: gen y

Twenty nine (ii)

Mr. McDonald, chair of the planners, stood up: “I commend the, er, Defenders for the effort put into their representation today. Their passion is plain to see and it is definitely serious food for thought for the planning committee. We will take six weeks to consider this representation and others and publish our final decision at that time. Thank you.”

I drove Rachel back to Myra’s.

“Wow, great job. I’m proud of you!”


“It must have taken some work and some rehearsal to get it that good!”

“Yes, I was still sorting out the timing with the team at ten last night.”

“Where?!” I asked.

“At home.”

“What! You had everyone round last night?”

“No Dad! Doh! Have you heard of the web?!”

Damn it. Just when I think I’m getting it.

Twenty nine (i)

I took a call from Rachel during the middle of a misty Tuesday morning. “Aren’t you at school?”

“Sure, on break. Listen. We’ve won a meeting with the planning people at the town hall today at 5pm. We want ‘pillars of the community’ on our side to attend, and our group thinks you’re one. Kinda funny, but guess you are.”

“Planning people…?”

“Dad! Yes, North Street Skate Park, remember?”

“Ah yes. Well that sounds interesting, very well done Rachel, but it’s a bit short notice and…”

Let’s just say I never finished the sentence and I was at the town hall at 5pm. And I’m glad I was. I had never seen such a prepared, coordinated and articulate bunch of teenagers in my life, and by the look on the planners’ faces I don’t believe they had either.

The Defenders, as the group labeled itself, had been allotted 15 minutes to present its case. Rachel’s role was to hold an iPad with a big countdown clock on it and make sure the group kept to time; no mean feat when the presentation included video evidence played out on the biggest of laptops (the room had no audio-visual facilities), various schematics printed on large sheets of paper, excerpts of commentary left on the online petition and associated Facebook page, a roll call of ‘pillars of the community’ in support of the Defenders (my two seconds of fame), statistics describing the number of social media check-ins to the park during the past twelve months, and a topping and tailing of the representation by the elected leader, an overly tall seventeen year-old called Trent or Demon depending on who was addressing him.

A little guy darted around the room taking photos on his smartphone with immediate upload, and another sat typing furiously on a battered laptop, live blogging. I learned later that their request to video proceedings had been declined.

The finale entailed two kids walking up to the planners’ table, buckets in hand, and literally pouring hundreds of photos of people enjoying themselves at the Skate Park onto the table. Trent: “Thanks to North Street Cameras for joining our campaign and for printing these photos free of charge. They’re the best.”

I was astonished. With the photos, they’d even recognized when to drop digital and get analogue for the less net-savvy on the committee. These guys are going to shake up the workforce in a few years.

Fourteen (i)

Rachel was staying with me that following weekend. And it was only then for some reason that social media really hit me hard. Perhaps, given everything going on at work, I was just in the mindset to question all my assumptions. Perhaps now that Rachel and I no longer lived under the same roof seven days a week I paid closer attention during the time we did have together.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m computer-savvy. I bought a laptop when a 100MB hard disk drive was considered massive (for younger readers, that’s not a typo). I unpacked it listening to Wu-Tang Clan on my new personal CD player feeling very ‘with it’.

The Fugees’ The Score was my soundtrack as I got on email and began to browse the nascent World Wide Web with Netscape Navigator. Upgrading from a 28.8 to 56 kbit/sec modem felt liberating! The day I got my first Motorola, I phoned Dom from an Eminem concert, tapping his number in from memory.

Now, plugged into my iPod or Android phone, I’m at ease checking in with family, friends, colleagues and professional peers online.

So I’ll be honest with you, in keeping abreast of the social media revolution in the press, by attending social media conferences and by getting myself on every social network going, I had assumed I ‘got’ social media.

These days, Muse, Nicki Minaj and Adele fight for attention alongside Led Zeppelin, Marc Cohn, Johnny Cash, Charles Mingus and Albinoni. The past gets hooks in you. Yet it’s perhaps not too simplistic to say that the younger generation lives entirely in the moment. To Rachel, the Web has always existed. Computers have always been connected. Adults have always had mobile phones and they’ve always been smart – the phones that is, not adults – and she got her first one for her 13th. Music has always been mp3. TV has always been on-demand. She has a completely fresh perspective.

“Dad, email doesn’t work very well does it?”

Now what do you say to that?

That weekend I watched Rachel gliding from laptop to desktop, from desktop to mobile, from mobile to tablet. From text to image to video to games to voice. From interacting one-to-one, and interacting amongst many. From leading the conversation, to observing more passively. From homework collaboration to sharing fashion finds, from DJing music amongst her friends to planning a sleepover, from comedic videos to hanging out in multi-player games. And her expectations of the experience are so high and so ingrained that the only comment she made in this respect was to tell me Mom had just got ‘Smart TV’. Her inference was not lost on me.