It lives in your homes. It follows you to work. It’s with you when you sleep…
Their is a clear and distinct generation gap among frequent users of the web. On one side of the gap are the people that have been working with computers since before the internet. They were among the first and second generation of web designers and have laid the foundation for the internet as we know it. These people have been doing some type of programming for more years then I’ve been alive. I don’t know the exact age but I think that the youngest members of this side of the gap are around 30.
The other side of the gap is made up of the “younger folk.” We are the people who grew up with computers. If we didn’t own one we had a good friend who did. We are the future of the internet. We “stand on the shoulders of giants” and have big boots to fill. Today’s web users have fallen into a continuous cycle. It starts by taking what the older generation has built. Learning from it. Using it. Throwing it away. Building something new for the next generation. Repeat. The oldest members of this group have recently turned 20.
So what? Who cares if their is a gap? It happens in every industry.
Matt Scheuerman from Mordecai Design is a 25 year old flash and web designer. I asked him how he felt and what he noticed about being right in the middle of the gap. He said:
“Unfortunately I feel like I was born five years too early or five years too late. Most of the web designers who are five years my senior have worked in at least 3 failed dotcoms and they wear this on their arms like a tattoo of downed enemy planes. They have enjoyed opportunities that I will never have, in extravagant offices filled with Herman Miller chairs.
My younger counterparts have learned from my mistakes and now are using this to their advantage to obtain lucrative jobs and worldwide prestige. I talk to some of these guys on a daily basis and they are using their abnormally young ages and lack of experience to their advantage to become known as the hot new young bloods.
The more experienced group that should be my mentors seem now too busy managing departments or businesses, and the younger crew is starting to pass me by.
Right now I’m in the middle and I feel left behind.”
Maybe the gap was inevitable but now we have the chance to fill it. I think events like Refresh Phoenix are helping a lot by bringing everyone together, but it will take a lot more work then that for the gap to be completely filled.
While I agree with what you (and Matt S.) are saying, I think the gap is largely a question of perception.
I’m 28, and I feel like i’m on both sides of the gap, instead of one or the other. I bought a 1200 baud modem when it was bleeding-edge and by the same token I code web services everyday at work using the latest technologies. I think the issue is, nobody will ever see the apps I write now, because they are owned by a rather large company. Although much of my work has changed how the company does business, none of it will ever be recognized as “hot” or “new” outside the hallowed walls of our corporate offices.
I think it would be a mistake to count the previous generation out because they are under-represented and conversely, the latest generation, because in some cases are in fact over-hyped.
Posted by Martin on Jan 14, 2006.