This Economist article makes the argument that Millennials that grew up with the Internet have only a superficial familiarity with the digital tools that they use regularly.
“There is as much variation of Internet know-how within the digital native generation” (Millennials born between 1980-2000) as between the previous generations. And their resulting logic is if “the young do not really have different kinds of brains that requires new approaches to school and work”, then there’s no reason to change the educational approach beyond a few clicks.
As much as I want to fight this ‘logic’, I have to agree when I look at the numbers. The most visited sites in the U.S. are still pretty simplistic in its usability and functionality: Search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN are pretty straight forward with its purpose and the interface hasn’t changed dynamically. The majority of e-commerce sites (Amazon, eBay) are set up for browsing and (again) searching. And Craigslist (7th most visited site in U.S.) still looks the way it did in 1995.
It’s only recent that sites like Facebook have begun to dramatically change how we engage with one another and share content on large scale, which has the potential to shape the way we most effectively consume information. So this brings us to the question, if the Internet has yet to bring the digital natives out of superficiality, then what kind of digital tools should we create that will do so in large scale?
To me, the most obvious solution is to evolve the already successful sites – Amazon is doing so by diversifying its line of digital products like the Kindle and Google has established Wave and Buzz as powerful social mediums. But websites like eBay and Yahoo are lost in cyberspace and Craigslist will never see an evolving product.
The last company listed is where we at Findr see the biggest opportunity. We believe that the seventh most visited website on the Internet hast the potential to better engage its users, create more trusting relationships and bring the Millennial Generation out of superficiality. I encourage you to take a look at our beta product ZeLocal which is launching this summer. It won’t require a different kind of brain to use, but it will reward digital natives who’re ready to move beyond the click.