The digital divide starts early

George Bernard Shaw is watching youGeorge Bernard Shaw once said “Youth is wasted on the young”. I used to think he was spot on but now thanks to a fascinating piece of research from AVG, I am not so sure. AVG examined the take-up of technology of very young children ages 2 to 5. While their sample was worldwide, it did only focus on developed countries (U.S., Canada, the EU5 (U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Spain), Japan, Australia and New Zealand) who you would expect to be more tech savvy. They asked mothers of the 2-5 year olds to document their children’s technology and life skills.

Amongst the results they found:

  1. More small children can play a computer game than ride a bike.
  2. There is no tech gender divide between young boys and girls. As many boys (58 percent) as girls (59 percent) can play a computer game or make a mobile phone call (28 percent boys, 29 percent girls).
  3. The EU countries lead the US in terms of technology savvy for the 2-5 set.

While some of these results may be due to primarily copying (seeing your parents make a phone call) rather than learning (riding a bike for the first time is not intuitive), the research does show how much technology is influencing our lives and how it is trickling down to our young ones.

The power of the internet (and the technology that drives it) continues to amaze me. Maybe I should not have been so surprised that the Egyptian revolution came out of nowhere and was enabled by the internet.

As an aside, I found it fascinating that the Egyptian government closed down their ISPs (and hence the Internet) before they curtailed and restricted  the reporting of traditional media. Times they are a-changing.

Game on … (Buzz vs. Facebook) Round One

In an interview on silicon.com, Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, the company behind the # 1 blogging platform WordPress (used by brazethoughts no less), makes some insightful comments on the future of software and how it can learn from the gaming industry. He believes the biggest challenge for the software industry is to make sure users can take full advantage of the increasing complexity of applications.

“If you think about it, complexity is actually not a bad thing – I mean users are not dumb, they’re actually very smart. You just need to give them the best way to learn and discover all the power that you have, and the best example of this is computer games. Computer games are so, so good at this. Think how complex the average computer interface is. It varies from game to game almost 100 per cent – the way you play Mario is not going to be the way you play Modern Warfare. But it starts you out on a training level – you start out, you get your legs, you walk around and you advance from level to level. And this applied to traditional software I think is going to one of the most interesting trends.”

He then attributes much of the success of Facebook to its game-like nature.

“They’re really brilliant how they encourage certain behaviours and how they tailor their news feed and the way images work and everything like that. Essentially it’s a social game but the other players are your friends and the objects are updates and photos, videos and news stories. The game never gets old because it’s constantly fresh from the content your friends are feeding into it. It’s utterly brilliant.”

facebook vs buzz Google’s Buzz has now entered the social networking arena,  it has a nice feature set but it doesn’t appear to have anything like the game aspects of Facebook. This got me wondering if the smart minds at Google have not thought things through and missed an opportunity.