Digital Natives/Immigrants – A Question of Time?

November 17th, 2008 by Val Sribar

Reading Gene Phifer’s blog post Some Digital Immigrants Just Don’t Get It reminded me of a presentation on Digital Natives as customers that I delivered earlier this week in the Netherlands.  One of the points that jumped out in the session is that Digital Natives tend to make a fair amount of time to do things on the web – participate in communities, give reviews, provide their own content, etc.  In contrast, between family and work, I find it very difficult to make time for my blog, facebook, flickr, etc.

It struck me that the younger generations are not the only ones able to make time for the web – my mother, who is retired, has become very proficient at not only surfing and email, but she’s really starting to get tied into communities, photo sharing, etc.  As my kids get older, I can see their participation in the web directly increasing her participation in the web.  Maybe the digital native/immigrant division is not only a question of generations, but also a quesiton of having the time to participate?  If so, I can see a lot of retired people looking more like digital natives than the folks spending a lot of time working and raising young families.  This has significant potential impact for anyone servicing or selling retirees like healthcare providers, insurers, financial planners, etc.

P.S. As discussions evolve, I find it’s always useful to go back to the foundational pieces on a subject, so those of you that never read Marc Prensky’s original treatise on Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants should check it out.

Flashmobs and Rallying People to a Cause

October 10th, 2008 by Val Sribar

About a year ago, I ran across a video in a friend’s Facebook called Frozen Grand Central.  I thought it was hysterical.  I didn’t know at the time, but this is called a flashmob, which Clay Shirky discussed at Gartner Web Innovation Summit a couple of weeks ago.  It struck me that this was a great example of the Internet’s potential to rally and coordinate people to a cause, albeit a fairly farsical one.  Mentally ‘fast forwarding’ this concept and searching on YouTube shows some interesting ways this has been applied: entertaining a crowd, poking fun at retailers, and even as coordinated protests.

The other day I read Daryl Plummer’s post On The Death of 20th Century Thinking! and it dawned on me that flashmobs are a great example of what Daryl was talking about.  In business and IT, we are not used to the idea of customers, employees, suppliers – anybody for that matter – rapidly rallying around a cause and coordinating mass actions.  This should dramatically change our notions of ‘governance’ when it comes to who has ‘decision rights’ to make a change with significant impact.  Those of us who grew up thinking that we could dictate terms to users, because we designed the business process or the application are in for a rude awakening.

What does this mean we should do?  First, realize that this is possible, and put in some kind of ‘forward listening system’ to quickly detect that a mass action is occuring.  In the IT world, this can be as simple as looking at usage patterns of an application and noticing when something significantly different starts to happen.  Second, think about finding ways to harness this to our advantage rather than trying to somehow shut it down.  Think about how this type of thing can quickly drive awareness around something that you have been struggling to get people to pay attention to or embrace.  If you want some more ideas, Malcolm Gladwell – who happens to be giving a keynote presentation at Gartner’s AADI Summit – is also onto the notion of leveraging these types of social concepts and has some great ideas.

Application Stories – AADI Summit

October 8th, 2008 by Val Sribar

My first post mentioned stories.  For the next few months, I will be highligting one of the major venues where you can see and hear applications stories – the Gartner Application Architecture, Development & Integration Summit, taking place Dec 8-10 at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas (co-located back to back with the Enterprise Architecture Summit).  For the 21st edition, we’ve revamped the agenda to provide even more relevant advice to our audience. Read more at this post in the AADI Blog.

Stories Where Life, Business and Applications Meet

October 8th, 2008 by Val Sribar

One of the greatest things in life is a compelling story.  As a kid, I remember listening to my dad tell stories about his work and travels.  I remember spending three years as a teenager in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia devouring every book I could find – not only because I loved to read, but because there was only one TV station and it mostly showed pilgrims slowly walking in circles in Mecca.  I’ve always loved movies with a great story and I’ve been known to stay up until the wee hours with other late nighters exchanging countless stories.

From this picture, you’ll see that I now find myself telling stories to my three young kids.  Judging by their faces – our Berenstain friends have a winner!


In addition to the kids, I’ve also been blessed to a find a job where I get to hear thousands of stories every year.  Stories of end users tyring to make a difference in their business through IT.  Stories of vendors hoping to create a truly useful solution.  Stories of successes and things gone horribly wrong that we can all learn from.

This blog will weave life, business and the world of applications into a set of stories that I hope you find compelling, entertaining, and useful – ENJOY!