I’ve had many conversations recently about how this new wave of social sites and tools is having a tremendous impact on the way people interact with the Web. We’re moving from a unidirectional web (listen, watch, read) to a truly multi-directional web (comment, create, share, re-mix). The analogy I use is the arrival of TV in the 1950’s. Many TV shows were structured like theater plays as this was the closest medium people could relate to. Jump forward to 1995 with the first explosion of the Web. Web 1.0 was all about creating content that could be consumed like traditional media (newspapers, magazines, etc.) with minimal interactivity. With the social interactivity of Web 2.0 sites and functions, we’re now going to another level of pervasiveness.
No surprise there. A lot of people have been saying that. But my new theory is that most people over 30 do not completely get it (disclosure: I’m over 30…). If you were born after 1980, you grew up with the Web. You’re expecting different features and functionalities in a Web site than people who discovered the Web when it first came about. Interactivity is one of them. You want to be able to influence, modify, erase, re-mix or be recognized for your contributions.
What it means: Web usage research and data for teens and tweens is key. I think we underestimate the way this generation will influence the way we consume online media (and media in general) and some people might be caught by surprise.
Sylvain adds : on this subject, I recommend a reading Mark Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants as good background material to understand the “digital fracture” between the generations. Googling for the title gives some PDF sample chapters… Note that it was written in 2001, that’s insight!