Off-topic: The Pause Generation

I am a skeptic in many ways, especially considering talk on how things are “different” now compared to some “then” (that often happen to be my own generation’s frame of reference). In particular, I react quite skeptically to news that the “kids of today” are completely different from their parents in how they use communications devices and their expectations of work and how the world works. For some reason, I just think “ah well, in the end people tend to be pretty much alike”. Also, I would like to believe that I also use modern communications devices just like the kids do (but looking closely, obviously I do not).

Are people really be that different in their uses of technology and expectations on how things work just from being brought up in the era of the Internet and the mobile phone? Where I was brought up in the era of none of the above? Even though I was writing a book about the Internet back in 1995, I am not the kind of net pioneer that today jumps on every latest fad and wants to try it out.

But the reason I am blabbing about about this is a recent event that really brought home to me just how perceptions are changed by the changing face of technology.

It is the attitude that my three-year-old son has when it comes to television. When we are watching childrens television together, and a program he likes ends, he immediately says “again”. Also, if he needs to take a break in the middle of a live show, he will ask for the remote to press “pause”… which you obviously cannot do on a live feed (module feeding it through our PVR, of course).

For him, the normal case is watching recorded programming where you can repeat, pause, and select programming. For me, when I was his age, we had to wait for the children’s programming to come on, and then watch it then and there. We had no VCR, no home theater, no way to repeat.

This expectation really shows how our expectations of system behavior are shaped by our initial experience. I appreciate being able to record and watch shows at any time (especially 1,5x speed is very handy for interesting shows when you are short on time). But I see that as a nice new feature, not as the normal case.

So I would dub my son part of the “pause” generation, brought up with DVD, PVR, and remote controls that steer the display of everything on the television display.

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