Generation C – for “connected”?

“Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the alphabet…” was my first reaction to the news that Nielsen has decided to assign another letter to a cohort of younger-than-me people.

Some students might find “Generation C” too reminiscent of their grades. Thinking bigger, perhaps the current college-age-and-just-beyond generation doesn’t need yet another “generation” label.

Or maybe “N” for “Networked,” “L” for “Linked,” or “S” for “Socialnet” would spare them the “grade C” association.

In any case, I’m sure glad the Internet brought me this data for free. The Nielsen results are so not-surprising that they may represent another generation, “Generation D’oh,” consisting of marketing execs scrambling to label, quantify and sell to the demographic du jour.

Personally, I have that old, hippie-era “don’t label me” reaction, which I guess is now an “old hippie” reaction. Does that mean I’m part of “Generation H”? Sigh. “Generation,” “preparation,” what’s the difference…

Anyhow, I’m tempted to look into this “C” research, after my Twitter feed brought these two weighty reports within an hour of each other… The Harvard one — at first glance — looks more interesting; or maybe it’s just that I’m more interested in the conversations and creativity than the consumerism:

“Born sometime between the launch of the VCR and the commercialization of the Internet, Americans 18-34 are redefining media consumption with their unique embrace of all things digital. According to Nielsen and NM Incite’s U.S. Digital Consumer Report, this group—dubbed “Generation C” by Nielsen—is taking their personal connection—with each other and content—to new levels, new devices and new experiences like no other age group.”

How do they know? Among other things, NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey company tracked over 181 million blogs around the world by the end of 2011. Glad to know someone is reading this stuff. The report also mentions that Pinterest reached 4.5 million unique U.S. visitors during October 2011, which is around the time I first saw a student using it in class.

If midterm grades weren’t due next week, I might find time for a more in-depth reading of both of these reports. Maybe that’s what spring break is for? Maybe that’s what my retirement years will be for?

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in Digital Culture, students

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