Nielsen debunks some popular myths regarding Millennials, my favorite being “Digital natives have natural instincts about how to use or fix computers and other digital products.” Apparently, and not too surprisingly, growing up with a technology or medium does not automatically lead to being and expert user of said technology or medium, nor a scholar, nor a repairsperson.
I grew up with TV, analog cameras and private cars. I have some academic knowledge of how TV works as a medium, because I studied this stuff. I can take a snapshot, but I cannot really explain how painting with light works, even though I learnt how to develop my own prints. And I cannot drive, let alone repair a car. I’m sure most Romans were able to walk on roads, but few knew how to build them so well, some exist to this day. So why should someone born between 1980 and 2000 know how to explain the underlying concepts of a modern GUI or be able to swap out a motherboard, without learning how to do this? Still, it’s good to get some figures to support this gut feeling.
Also nice: Nielsen start their article with a breakdown of consensual birth years of the major generations of this and the last century.
Favorite observation: “Many Millennials were in grade school or college when Google first rose to popularity, and it was a critical influence in setting the level of simplicity and directness that Millennials have come to expect from interfaces.” It’s an interesting approach to look at what the world was like when someone was in their most intense learning years to figure out which media and tools they use and how.
In related news: There is a website that, for every college graduation year (I think) details which developments and inventions they have seen and which they haven’s. Like today’s 6th graders who don’t know how a rotary dial telephone works. Anyone got a link, maybe?