attn: media – your analysis of teen tech trends is not valid

Via Chairman Bruce comes this tale of tech woes; oh noes, b-loggin’ is not so hip no moar with, you know, teh_kidz AND TWITTER NEVER WILL BE!

This article (and the many before like it) hits a nerve with me, in that it perpuates a lot of ideas that I’m sick of hearing.  In short, I TAKE UMBRAGE, SIR!

Given Bruce, ironically, tweeted this.. let me appropriate his style of dissecting emails and posts in his blogs (and earlier, emails).

All emphasis mine, etc etc.. let’s pick this baby apart:

Blogging is falling out of favor among the young’uns these days as they move to quicker-moving social networking sites. At the same time, older adults are getting into blogging and teens still aren’t hot on Twitter, at least according to the latest report from the Pew Internet and American Life project.

Only 14 percent of teenage Internet users said that they blogged last year—that’s half the number from 2006. Similarly, teen commenting on blogs is way down from 76 percent in 2006 to just over 52 percent in 2009. It doesn’t matter whether the blog is on Blogspot or buried within MySpace, either—blogs in general are definitely not the new black.

Firstly, if you’re a millennial, blogging is old media. It’s not a radical change to the media landscape, it’s just part of their world that’s always been there.

Secondly, seriously.. was blogging ever really popular with teenagers? It was definitely rating high in the early 20s+ demographic in the late 90s/early 00s.. and that’s your cut-off for that (micro)generation of digital natives. As they came online, blogs was teh way to share your life. Now-a-days, yes, it’s Facebook and MMOs. 

Lastly, 14% blogged last year.. what’s the actual value?  That’s half percentage-wise, but everyone! knows that the population is going online at a logarithmic rate.  Don’t confuse the public by using selective statistics to sensationalize the issue.

This isn’t surprising, especially given the fact that teenagers have been flocking to social networking sites in recent years. Almost three-quarters of American teens use sites like Facebook and MySpace—up from 55 percent in 2006—and the numbers are virtually the same for young adults (those between 18 and 29).

I said MMOs.. I’m guessing Pew don’t even know about X-Fire. How about some stats on people fleeing Yahoo! chat for MSN? Exactly.. irrelavant!

What they are not doing, however, is using Twitter, or at least not in large numbers. Only 8 percent of Internet users between 12 and 17 use Twitter, while a full third of those between 18 and 29 do so. This data reflects a previous Nielsen report from mid-2009, as well as a report from Morgan Stanley, both of which noted Twitter’s relative unpopularity among the younger Internet-using audience.

Mashable did a prety decent breakdown on this a while ago – Why Teens Don’t Tweet.  Quick summary – they’re talking to their existing social network (ie their friends) NOT into the void.

The trend away from blogging seems to go against data from just two years ago that said the number of bloggers in the world was growing rapidly. What happened? For one, emerging markets like China, Taiwan, Korea, and India are bringing more and more Internet users online by the day, adding to the ranks of bloggers and social networking users alike. Additionally, despite teens getting turned off from the medium, Pew found that older Internet users are actually moving towards blogs—11 percent of users over 30 now regularly maintain a blog compared to 7 percent in 2007, and overall “adult” blogging rates have remained steady.

(Hold that thought – I’ll get back to this part)

Wait for it..

This may be reflective of older users’ interest in reading and writing more in-depth content than 12 one-sentence one-offs in a day, but Pew seems to agree that blogging is quickly becoming the thing that un-hip old people do. “Microblogging and status updating on social networks have replaced old-style ‘macro-blogging’ for many teens and adults,” Pew researcher Amanda Lenhart said in a statement. “The fad stage [of blogging] is over.”

They just ended with “kids today...” On one hand we’ve got them attempting to burst the bubble on the twitter hype, ’cause the kids don’t use it.. then they turn around and sledge those same kids for being of too short an attention span.  I could bust out the popularity of Twilight and Harry Potter to show that tweens are quite happy to read long works.  The massive growth of Young Adult literature.  Etc.  Ad nausea.

The (again, missed) point is that we are sharing more, not reading less.  Short and long form.  That brilliant, random thought need no longer lie hidden in a notebook, unread by the masses; off to twitter it goes, where it can take on it’s on life.. be faved or retweeted..  lurk in the subconcious for years, bring a smile or spark an intense debate or…blog post even!  This is the new ecology of thought and discourse.

But enough parenthetical micro-ranting…

(OK, I’m back)

Onto the actual point that enraged me enough to write this in the first place;  LEDE = BURIED!!!

Can we please forget coveting the cool cachet of the all important t(w)eens!?!  This is The Conversation and, as was just shown, more people from the World and from a greater age range are engaging in it.  This is what it means publicly publish your thoughts in a manner  that is open and searchable. 

Instead of counting the number of blogs, can we dig deeper and look at the content. For Cthulhu’s sake, don’t we want the older generation uploading a life’s worth of experience and knowledge.. isn’t that something pretty fucking valuable? Not to denigrate the contributions of the young, but it’s a fair bet that any blog/MySpace page/Facebook profile entry of the average 17yo is more likely to be about the latest it-band/movie whatever. 

Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that twitter is some holy medium of pure truth – all the prosecution has to do is present the Trending Topics argument.  Sturgeon’s Law applies to all things.   BUT, just because teens aren’t using a technology, doesn’t mean it’s a bad/broken or useless tech.  We should celebrate that more people than ever are online and talking to each other. 


Let me hand the mike over to Craig Ferguson:

Addendum :- Cyberpunk Elder Bruce later posted, via twitter, a link to – proof of the continued strength and value of blogging by ‘old people’ and it’s vitally as a medium of expresion.

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