–Arthur C. Clarke, “Profiles of the Future” (1961)
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic.”
Communicating with the Audiences of the Future
Steven Jong
InterChange 2014
1964 World’s Fair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
File:New_York_World%27s_Fair_August_1964.jpeg
Photo: Don O’Brian, Wikimedia Commons
Disclaimers
• These are broad
characterizations with many
exceptions
• Predictions are prone to
disruption
• US only
• Cen...
Demographic Analysis: Population Pyramid
http://fathersforlife.org/population_politics/world_population_pyramids_selected_...
http://fathersforlife.org/population_politics/world_population_pyramids_selected_countries.htm
Populations change over time
Animated US population pyramid, 1950-2050
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm;
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Gemini_7_i...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saigon-hubert-van-es.jpg;
h...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm;
http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Under_Construction/Lardbucket/Cha...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm;
http://www.history.com/topics/oklahoma-city-bombing;
http://w...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm;
http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2013/03/mission-accomplished-...
Audience
Workforce
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm
2014
Generation Theory: Saeculum
Civic
Adaptive
Idealist
Reactive
“GI” Generation
• “Civic”
• Born: 1901–1924 (now 90–113)
• Not in audience or workforce
• Influences: Great Depression,
FD...
“Silent” Generation
• “Adaptive”
• Born: 1925–1942 (now 72–89)
• Audience, not workforce
• Influences: Great Depression,
W...
“Boomer” Generation
• “Idealist”
• Born: 1943–1964 (now 50–71)
• Audience, workforce (leader
class)
• Influences: TV, JFK
...
“Overwhelmed by
technology” in action
http://i.imgur.com/BVmd42v.jpg
“Gen X” Generation
• “Reactive”
• Born: 1965–1980 (now 34–49)
• Audience, workforce (manager
class)
• Influences: video
ga...
“Millennial”
Generation
• “Civic”
• Born: 1981–2000 (now 14–33)
• Audience, workforce (worker
class)
• Influences: compute...
“Homeland” Generation
• “Adaptive”
• Born: 2001–? (Now 0–13)
• Not yet in audience or workforce
• Influences: War on Terro...
“Digital from birth” in action
We won't get paid to document today's interfaces much longer...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm
Silent
Boomer
Gen X
Millennial
Homeland
2014
GI
Audience
Workf...
Society for Technical
Communication (2014)
• 25% of peak membership
• Led and dominated by (US)
Boomers, now retiring
• Ne...
Applying demographics and generation theory to
future personas and practitioner profiles
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm
Boomer
Gen X
Millennial
Homeland
Silent
2024
Audience
Workforce
© Hanna-Barbera
Persona (2024)
Caitlin Smith-Garcia, 32
Cybrarian
Analyzes massive data sets for market research
and new-product developme...
Practitioners (2024)
• Technical writing is rare; technical
communication is common
• Gen Xers are very secure in their jo...
Society for Technical
Communication (2024)
• Information, and competition, is
everywhere
• Retired members are very
import...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm
Boomer
Gen X
Millennial
Homeland
Jetsons
2039
Audience
Workfor...
Persona (2039)
Jacob Neuworth, 36
Genetic engineer, World Wildlife Federation
Recovering extinct species
Ph.D, MIT
“Workin...
Practitioners (2039)
• “Writing” in the sense that a written
screenplay becomes a movie
• No career ladder, but rotating t...
“Voice UI skills gap” in
action
cheezeburger.com
Society for Technical and Web
Communication (2039)
• STC is transformed or replaced
• Members are Millennials and
Homeland...
http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm
Gen X
Millennial
Homeland
Jetsons
2053
Audience
Workforce
Persona (2053)
Jackson Huygens, 29
Carbon sequestration engineer, Exxon-Halliburton
Building nucear-powered sequestration ...
Practitioners (2053)
• Strong workplace conflict between
Millennials and “Jetsons”
• Many work past 70
• Clarity of expres...
Society for
Communication (2053)
• Embraces non-technical
communication (greatly increasing
market)
• Goals: Clear, concis...
General Sources
• US Census Bureau, www.census.gov
• Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. William S...
Boomers
• “If We Work Into Our 70s, What Happens in the Workplace?” Jeanne
Meister, Forbes, 2012-06-26 (retrieved 2014-02-...
Generation X
“Transitioning to Workforce 2020,” Cisco Systems white
paper, 2011, www.cisco.com/web/learning/employer_resou...
Millennials
• “Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next.” Pew Research Center, February
2010, pewsocialtrends.org/files/...
Homelanders
• “Gen Z: Digital in their DNA.” April 2012, JWT
Intelligence, www.jwtintelligence.com/wp-
content/uploads/201...
Communicating with the Audiences of the Future
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Communicating with the Audiences of the Future

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Predicting future technology is hard, but thanks to demographics and surveys, predicting future audiences is actually fairly easy. Understanding future audiences gives insights into future workers and the future of our professional society.

Presentation given by Steven Jong at InterChange 2014, the regional conference of the New England Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, Lowell, Massachusetts, USA, 29 March 2014.

[Re-uploaded 4/21 as a PPTX with presenter notes--sfj]

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Communicating with the Audiences of the Future

  1. 1. –Arthur C. Clarke, “Profiles of the Future” (1961) “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
  2. 2. Communicating with the Audiences of the Future Steven Jong InterChange 2014
  3. 3. 1964 World’s Fair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ File:New_York_World%27s_Fair_August_1964.jpeg
  4. 4. Photo: Don O’Brian, Wikimedia Commons
  5. 5. Disclaimers • These are broad characterizations with many exceptions • Predictions are prone to disruption • US only • Census data is aligned to years ending in 0, so I’ll interpolate • I’m a (Baby) Boomer • I’ll use neutral generation names • I’ll try to avoid judgments and politics • I’ll label my own predictions
  6. 6. Demographic Analysis: Population Pyramid http://fathersforlife.org/population_politics/world_population_pyramids_selected_countries.htm
  7. 7. http://fathersforlife.org/population_politics/world_population_pyramids_selected_countries.htm
  8. 8. Populations change over time Animated US population pyramid, 1950-2050
  9. 9. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm; http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/Gemini_7_in_orbit_-_GPN-2006- 000035.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:IBM360-65-1.corestore.jpg
  10. 10. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Saigon-hubert-van-es.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cray-1-deutsches-museum.jpg
  11. 11. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm; http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Under_Construction/Lardbucket/Chapter_3/3.6_Chemical_Reactions_in_the_At mosphere; http://maz.entrepreneursmingle.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/first-generation-macintosh.jpg
  12. 12. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm; http://www.history.com/topics/oklahoma-city-bombing; http://www.top500.org/featured/systems/asci-red-sandia-national-laboratory/
  13. 13. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm; http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2013/03/mission-accomplished-10th-anniversary-iraq-war/; http://www.techhive.com/article/120200/article.html
  14. 14. Audience Workforce http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm 2014
  15. 15. Generation Theory: Saeculum Civic Adaptive Idealist Reactive
  16. 16. “GI” Generation • “Civic” • Born: 1901–1924 (now 90–113) • Not in audience or workforce • Influences: Great Depression, FDR, Pearl Harbor, “American Dream” • Attitudes: Optimism, trust in authority and government, conformity • Work style: command and control
  17. 17. “Silent” Generation • “Adaptive” • Born: 1925–1942 (now 72–89) • Audience, not workforce • Influences: Great Depression, WWII (as observers) • Attitudes: Children should be seen and not heard; conservative, conformity, sacrifice • Work style: well-crafted memos
  18. 18. “Boomer” Generation • “Idealist” • Born: 1943–1964 (now 50–71) • Audience, workforce (leader class) • Influences: TV, JFK assassination, Vietnam War, Woodstock, Watergate • Attitudes: materialistic, workaholic, individualistic, free- spirited, suspicious of authority • Work style: meetings
  19. 19. “Overwhelmed by technology” in action http://i.imgur.com/BVmd42v.jpg
  20. 20. “Gen X” Generation • “Reactive” • Born: 1965–1980 (now 34–49) • Audience, workforce (manager class) • Influences: video games, Challenger disaster, end of Cold War, Gulf War I • Attitudes: self- reliant, entrepreneurial; mistrustful of government; anxious about jobs • Work style: hands off
  21. 21. “Millennial” Generation • “Civic” • Born: 1981–2000 (now 14–33) • Audience, workforce (worker class) • Influences: computers, diversity, 9/11 • Attitudes: busy, stressed; collaborative, goal-driven • Work style: hands on
  22. 22. “Homeland” Generation • “Adaptive” • Born: 2001–? (Now 0–13) • Not yet in audience or workforce • Influences: War on Terror, Web, “Great Recession” • Attitudes: always connected, always sharing, expects instant gratification • Work style: digital from birth
  23. 23. “Digital from birth” in action We won't get paid to document today's interfaces much longer...
  24. 24. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm Silent Boomer Gen X Millennial Homeland 2014 GI Audience Workforce
  25. 25. Society for Technical Communication (2014) • 25% of peak membership • Led and dominated by (US) Boomers, now retiring • Neither Boomers nor Gen Xers are prone to joining organizations • Dues are an issue • Divesting non-writers (UX, technical artists)
  26. 26. Applying demographics and generation theory to future personas and practitioner profiles
  27. 27. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm Boomer Gen X Millennial Homeland Silent 2024 Audience Workforce
  28. 28. © Hanna-Barbera
  29. 29. Persona (2024) Caitlin Smith-Garcia, 32 Cybrarian Analyzes massive data sets for market research and new-product development BS, Information Science, Michigan “I get paid to answer complex questions, so I need to know how to form the right queries. There are so many nuances, it's hard to know them all. “I use my smart glasses all the time. I shop, I text my friends all the time at work, I learn with them. I spend maybe an hour a day reading. But I’m not really used to writing anything down. “I don’t need to know things; I need to find out how to do things. Outside of work I don't want to hunt. Just get to the point and tell me what I need to do. Give me real-world examples and case studies, and tell me and how long it will take.”
  30. 30. Practitioners (2024) • Technical writing is rare; technical communication is common • Gen Xers are very secure in their jobs; Millennials change jobs frequently • Conflict between Gen X managers (hands- off style) and Millennials worker (who want close supervision, clear directions, and constant feedback) • Conflict over onshore vs. offshore • Over half of all US workers telecommute at least sometimes; corporate devices are rare • Workers are independent, and committing to one company is now unusual • Millennial workers are uncomfortable with workplace or face-to-face communication “Are you listening to us?”
  31. 31. Society for Technical Communication (2024) • Information, and competition, is everywhere • Retired members are very important • Two-way mentoring • Younger members crave institutions and social contact, actively volunteer • Fundraising appeals and crowdfunding options are now viable
  32. 32. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm Boomer Gen X Millennial Homeland Jetsons 2039 Audience Workforce
  33. 33. Persona (2039) Jacob Neuworth, 36 Genetic engineer, World Wildlife Federation Recovering extinct species Ph.D, MIT “Working with experts in the US, China, and Vietnam, I am bringing back the Yangtze River dolphin, extinct for over 30 years. “I’ve curated over 25,000 professional links. I love to read, and I also own several autographed books! Of course, today books and other fixed media are obsolete. And I don’t actually like to navigate through them—they’re just static words and pictures. “I haven't needed a keyboard in years, and I don't miss them. So frustrating! A friend sent me a fancy wedding invitation, but I can’t read cursive. Can’t write it, either. I can print, but why? It just cramps my hands. I need to write, not make letters. “I get impatient sitting down and studying. Give me a summary so I can get started immediately. I want to know what I need to do, whether I’m making progress, and when I’m done, so I don’t get stuck.” http://www.edgeofexistence.org/edgeblog/?p=777
  34. 34. Practitioners (2039) • “Writing” in the sense that a written screenplay becomes a movie • No career ladder, but rotating through roles on goal-directed teams • Lifespans are longer, and most jobs involve no commuting or physical labor, so working past 65 is common • The new UI is voice, and the new writing skill is dictation • Physical, communications skills gaps • AI creates all routine documents • Direct mental interface possible, but not practical http://photo.elsoar.com/handsome-businessmen- using-touchpad-16-hd_photos.html
  35. 35. “Voice UI skills gap” in action cheezeburger.com
  36. 36. Society for Technical and Web Communication (2039) • STC is transformed or replaced • Members are Millennials and Homelanders • Human interactions very important; chapters in every major city support F2F interaction • Filling in skills gaps • Curation of information
  37. 37. http://www.china-europe-usa.com/level_4_data/hum/011_7c.htm Gen X Millennial Homeland Jetsons 2053 Audience Workforce
  38. 38. Persona (2053) Jackson Huygens, 29 Carbon sequestration engineer, Exxon-Halliburton Building nucear-powered sequestration plants that convert atmospheric CO2 into dikes Self-trained “I’m proud to be part of the largest construction project in human history. While colonists are teraforming Mars, we’re teraforming Earth! I’m protecting our cities while making a better world for my children. “Memorizing facts is antiquated—everything’s in the system. But I share my skills and expertise with colleagues everywhere, so we can all be more effective. “My folks struggle to connect with the system, and sometimes my boss does too. I don’t say anything when he has to point, because to be honest, sometimes I have to work at it myself! “I’ve always loved learning better hacks. But 90% of everything is crap; you have to wade through a lot to find something really useful.” http://m.wisegeek.com/what-does-a-construction-site- manager-do.htm#men-in-hard-hats-at-job-site
  39. 39. Practitioners (2053) • Strong workplace conflict between Millennials and “Jetsons” • Many work past 70 • Clarity of expression is still important • Fully global teams, rarely meeting, use real-time translation to converse live • Cult of professional expertise: everyone has niche skills, portable credentials • Most content is visual • Likes chain of command, peer leaders, continual feedback • Major technologies are digital, energy, environmental, biomedical, space, learning to use direct mental interfaces
  40. 40. Society for Communication (2053) • Embraces non-technical communication (greatly increasing market) • Goals: Clear, concise, and reliable communication • Focuses on communicating skills and abilities, not knowledge • Tools utterly different, but best practices haven’t changed • Serves as a significant point of connection for practitioners • Benefits from legal requirements to participate in lifelong learning © ESPN
  41. 41. General Sources • US Census Bureau, www.census.gov • Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069. William Strauss and Neil Howell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991 • The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2014 • “Meet the Generations,” extension.missouri.edu/extcouncil/documents/ecyl/Meet-the- generations.pdf • “The Power of 4.” Paul Olson and Hannah Brescher. Adayana, 2011, www.adayana.com/sites/default/files/docs/whitepapers/The%20Four%20Generations %202011-03_2.pdf • Mixing and Matching Four generations,” Greg Hammill, FDU Magazine Online, Winter/Spring 2005, www.fdu.edu/newspubs/magazine/05ws/generations.htm
  42. 42. Boomers • “If We Work Into Our 70s, What Happens in the Workplace?” Jeanne Meister, Forbes, 2012-06-26 (retrieved 2014-02- 27), www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/06/26/if-we-work-into-our-70s- what-happens-in-the-workplace • “An overview of economic, social, and demographic trends affecting the US labor market,” Robert I. Lerman and Stefanie R. Schmidt, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC, www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman/reports/ futurework/conference/trends/TrendsIV.htm • “Responding to the Challenge of a Changing Workforce: Recruiting Nontraditional Demographic Groups,” Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D., Mary Anne Taylor, Ph.D., Kenneth S. Schultz, Ph.D., Patrick F. McKay, Ph.D. Public Personnel Management, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 445–459 • “The Changing Demographic Profile of the United States,” March 31, 2011, Laura B. Shrestha, Elayne J. Heisler, Congressional Research Service
  43. 43. Generation X “Transitioning to Workforce 2020,” Cisco Systems white paper, 2011, www.cisco.com/web/learning/employer_resour ces/pdfs/Workforce_2020_White_Paper.pdf
  44. 44. Millennials • “Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next.” Pew Research Center, February 2010, pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to- change.pdf • “Big demands and high expectations: The Deloitte Millennial Survey,” January 2014, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd., www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/About-Deloitte/gx- dttl-2014-millennial-survey-report.pdf • The Mindset List (Beloit College), www.beloit.edu/mindset/ • “Learning Curve: How College Graduates Solve Information Problems Once They Join the Workplace.” Alison J. Head, Project Information Literacy, October 2012, journalistsresource.org/studies/society/education/how-college-graduates-solve- information-problems-join-workplace#sthash.I1r8BddP.dpuf • “Three Reasons You Need to Adopt a Millennial Mindset Regardless of Your Age,” Jeanne Meister, Forbes, 2012-10-05 (retrieved 2014-02- 27), www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/10/05/millennialmindse/
  45. 45. Homelanders • “Gen Z: Digital in their DNA.” April 2012, JWT Intelligence, www.jwtintelligence.com/wp- content/uploads/2012/04/F_INTERNAL_Gen_Z_0418122.pdf • “Consumers of Tomorrow: Insights and Observations About Generation Z.” Grail Research, November 2011, www.grailresearch.com/pdf/ContenPodsPdf/Consumers_of_Tomorrow _Insights_and_Observations_About_Generation_Z.pdf • “How Generation Z Works,” Lance Looper, HowStuffWorks.com (retrieved 2014-02-27), people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/generation- gaps/generation-z.htm • “The Complete Visual Guide to Generation Z,” Katie Lepi, 2013-11-15 (retrieved 2014-02-27), www.edudemic.com/generation-z/
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