Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bitchin' 'bout my generation

This article has been published on Homepage Daily, please view it there.

If there is one good thing coming out of the Global Financial Crisis, the media agrees, it is that those cocky Gen Y bastards are getting the reality shock they deserve. The wheel has turned, and the first thing to get crushed beneath it will be their delusions of grandeur.

Incoming Gen Z, born in the late 90’s, are already being touted as society’s saviors with more fiscal responsibility and a better work ethic - despite that fact that none of them have hit their teens.

By contrast, Gen Y are “impatient, disloyal and demanding“ and have recently been exhorted to not be picky ”job snobs” in the new recession world order. Follow the minimum wage pay packet, not your overblown dreams, is the stern message.

But what have Gen Y done other than be young and optimistic in a time of optimism? Being a snarky cocky know-it-all with little respect for authority and a desire to make your mark on the world is not new. An Assyrian clay tablet, dated about 2,800BC, bemoans society in a timeless and timely quote - “Our earth is degenerate in these latter days; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”

But the world still hasn’t ended and Gen Y are now living through their first recession. Yes, many of them have unrealistic expectations of adulthood and what they will achieve. Most young people do. Dreaming big is part of being young. Older generations know that. They have lived through their own cocky years, as well as the recession cycle. They've been here before, and should be able to empathise.

But the sheer delight with which they are watching the Gen Y dream being crushed says far more about the small and selfish nature of the older generations, rather than those they ridicule. Gen Y may be overconfident and loud about it, but their only real crime as they have committed was to naively swallow the optimistic hype delivered to them by older heads who, having seen the cycle before, knew the wheel would turn again.

Sadhbh Warren was born in Cork, Ireland, but is living in Australia as they have nicer weather, fabulous beaches and the pubs open late. Demographically she’s either an immature brat of a Gen X, or an early adopter Gen Y, but she has decided to reject both and declare herself Generation Snark.
Not being a job snob, she has worked as a promotions girl, professional mover, travelling carnie and one of Santa's elves. All of these were more fun than office work.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No Signal to Noise - why Twitter failed

This article has been published on Homepage Daily, please view it there.

It was an interesting experiment, but Twitter has been spammed out before it even got mainstream.

Twitter, a micro-blogging service where users send and read posts of up to 140 characters called tweets, is aptly and deliberately named for its very low ratio of signal to noise. We’d don’t know, as Twitter won’t release hard facts, how many users it has and how it plans to make money. But in early 2009, Twitter had a monthly growth of 1,382% and total users were estimated at just under 20 million. That’s a lot of user data, and the only real asset Twitter has right now.

Sounds good? In fact, the hype may have been Achilles’ hell. Once word got out it was a great way to reach a large audience for free, it was hi-jacked by salespeople long before the customers arrived. Pollies, porn sites, police and spammers – meet your new Twitter friends. Trends, topics that are mentioned the most in tweets, are mainly propagated and kept on the top ten by spammers mentioning them in their tweets as an aside after their sales pitch. Politicians are onboard, with Obama and KRudd being joined by Malcolm Turnbull - – not someone you’d call an early adopter in any area.

Today the Victorian Police announced they are to tweet the "embarrassingly boozy breath readings recorded" of drink drivers caught. Cautionary tales, fresh from the police to your inbox. If you can find them in the spam. Why would you want to sign up to this? Twitter was meant to connect people but it has been seized with the enthusiasm by the mainstream to market to you.

Lets face it, it’s too easy. Low commitment, high impact. No fees. The very ease of set up makes filtering difficult and spamming easy for advertisers. If you had a mail server that did that you’d be screaming.

Now I’ve worked out the way to get value from it is to lock it down – private, friends only, the opposite of what Twitter should be. I’m not writing it off. The connectivity, the immediacy, the mobilisation of real people over a quick connection has huge potential. But right now, it’s just another way to get spammed and sold out.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rest In Peace, Wacko Jacko

This article has been published on Homepage Daily, please view it there.
Two weeks have passed since the news broke, but you still can’t avoid seeing Michael Jackson wherever you look.

The King of Pop. MJ, the Moonwalker. On Twitter on the day of his funeral, messages about him could be found under 4 trending names, or hash tags. Every magazine cover that could be cranked out had his photo, his name, on the cover.

But nowhere can you find the nickname that, up until a week ago when he dropped dead of and the world suddenly developed a conscience, most of the world knew him as for years.

Wacko Jacko. This article has been published on Homepage Daily, please view it there.