2008-09-05

Real guitars are for old people

I like to observe how people use technology. I watch my family, friends, coworkers, and strangers to see how they use their gadgets in public and private places. Young people and old people use technology differently from each other; mentally cataloging these differences has become a hobby.

When I use the terms "old people" and "young people", I don't mean a particular age group. I do have particular ages in mind: a "young" person is more likely to be a 14 year old, and an old person is more likely to be a 48 year old, but what I'm really trying to convey is a person's style. An old person is stodgy, resistant to change, and inexperienced with newer technology. A young person grew up with a laptop PC, a cell phone, and a DVR, and has plenty of spare time to try new things.

Here are some of my observations and stereotypes:
  • Old people print web pages and carry paper around to show others. Young people just Google it and walk away contented.
  • Old people leave voice mail. Young people don't listen to it.
  • Old people use email. Young people use IM and text messages. (Old people say SMS instead of text message.)
  • Young people read manga and graphic novels. Old people think they are too old for comics.
  • Old people print driving directions. Young people don't drive. Young people who are old enough to drive use the directions on their phone.
  • Young people watch feature films on their iPods. Old people wonder why you'd want to watch a movie on such a small screen.
  • Old people listen to music on their phones. Young people use their iPods because their phones aren't good music players.
  • Old people buy music from iTunes or on CDs. Young people borrow a friend's iPod.
  • Old people wait for the latest sports scores on ESPN or the TV news. Young people look up the latest scores and info on espn.com.
  • Young people read RSS feeds. Old people read the tree killer edition of the newspaper.
  • Young people share to an embarrassing degree on FaceBook. Old people are more careful.
  • Old people play guitar. Young people appropriate, repurpose, and mash up. As Cartman says, "real guitars are for old people."

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