I've come up with a term, and I'd like to start a conversation around it.
We're all familiar with the word “age.” Typically this word is used to mark a place in something's chronological progression. For example, I'll turn 39 next week. Or a bottle of wine is 39 years old. My americano is ten minutes old.
I was trying to come up with a term that I could use to describe a phenomenon I've witnessed wherein a person is locked in to a particular workflow when it comes to productivity or communication. It can also be applied to how one views the internet and the tools available to them.
The time was about 1997/8… the world was significantly different. LCDs were for laptops only, Altavista was the search engine (or Yahoo! soon). Documents were created in Word, and stored on a server in the office, and possibly backed up personally on the good ole floppy or Zip disk. Email became the way to reach the people. Voicemail was hot too. Digital music was an up and comer, but the audio quality was horrid.
Today, I don't have Microsoft Office on my computer, I use Google Docs. Sure I have Pages just in case, but my documents are stored (and shared) with Google. Speaking of Google, are there other search engines today? Sure, but the big one is Google. Email is too slow, instead we've become a Twitterverse. It is instant, and always on. There are times that I could email, text, or IM someone, and instead choose to direct them with Twitter. Now is best, thanks. My wife has a 21″ widescreen LCD as a secondary screen with her laptop, and I know plenty of people with those cheesy 30″ LCDs (heh).
Ok, ok… the term. It is “Internet Age.” Someone's Internet Age reflects how long ago they were introduced to the internet. I've noticed that typical people, certainly not those in the startup community, use the tools available today in exactly the same way they did when they were first introduced. Go ahead, ask someone that was introduced to the net in 1999 or so if they're on Facebook. Or if they know what Twitter is. Ask them why they use Office, or why they're using Yahoo to find http://www.google.com
One's Internet Age will tell you a lot about how they like to be contacted. If they're 3 or younger, IM is too slow… text them. From 4 to 7ish they'll prefer IM over email. Six to 10, email is still the preferred method. Over that, they'll check their email once or twice a week, so you'd better leave voice mail.
What do you think? The ages may be off a bit, but have you found the same thing?