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Tenth Grade Tech Trends (medium.com)
294 points by j2labs 1636 days ago | hide | past | web | 144 comments | favorite

I'm not sure this has as much to do with her age as her gender (although I'm sure the former does play some kind of a role). My sister uses snapchat, instagram, and facetime all the time in the same ways as you described your sister does, and she's graduated from college. She uses it predominantly to communicate with her other female friends.

I also know several girls my age (25/26) who use these services in the same way. It tends to be mostly the "social butterfly" type of girls. It's funny because these are the same girls who would flood their facebook walls with pictures throughout the day, and now they rarely if ever make a post. I could be wrong, but I don't see any guys using the services in the same way.

I'm in 11th and I read Hacker News on a daily basis, so I'm a bit outside the general population when it comes to issues like this. With that said, her thoughts on Facebook are echoed by everyone who I've talked to. Many are sick of it, and fewer each day check it regularly.

If I need to contact someone, even someone with Facebook on their smartphone, it takes hours to get a reply. If I use SMS I'm acknowledged near instantly.

I feel like Facebook has become the boring Uncle of our digital lives. Nobody really likes it, except for those blissfully ignorant people who haven't realised how dumb they look posting all the time, but we can't get rid of it. I agree that texting is usually faster than Facebook messaging (though because I use WP7 the line is pretty well blurred between the two for me) but you tend to be Facebook friends with more people than you have phone numbers for and/or text regularly. Maybe this is a little different for you because you are still in school, but as a young adult Facebook is the quick, reliable place where everyone I know is stored.

I read a description of the computer desktop as the place which you can always find on your computer, and so the place where unconfident computer users end up storing all of their files. I think Facebook is the equivalent of the desktop for social contacts on the web. Which I think will give it a lot of resilience to unpopularity, so even if no one loves it, it'll probably stick around.

I use Facebook as the "universal directory" if I don't have contact details for someone, which is the infuriating part. If I need to contact someone I don't have a phone number or some IM contact for, I go to Facebook and look there.

A great analogy would be phone books. I've not found a person who actually likes getting or using them, but they were the best place to find someone's phone number if all you had was a name and a bit of an address.

I'm in 10th grade, and I have noticed that my friends and I (well especially me) rarely use SMS. 99% of the time we use Facebook messages to communicate.

What country are you in?

I think he missed the point about FaceTime. Not /that/ many 10th graders have iPhones. 110.00 a month is too much, so the push the limits of their iPods.

We don't need a new app so kids can do video chat, there's Skype and others for that. They like the ease if use. The problem is to tack in another data plan restriction removal to open FaceTime with AT&T and possibly others is the barrier.

I have a 4gs and can't use FaceTime over the cellular network without paying AT&T more money or losing my unlimited plan. So I don't use it.

All this comes down to the same conclusion the author had. There's a huge market in the term category. They have deep pockets by proxy of their patents. But parents won't drop that much more for FaceTime. Want to tap that market AT&T, Verizon, etc? Allows FaceTime on your network. And Apple, open iMessage and FaceTime so that it can be coded on Sndroid and everything else. Apple gets brand recognition ala "FireWire" and we get a service we want that there no reason to pay more for.

29.00 a month for unlimited texts. Insane. 90% of my friends have iPhones. But messages from my bank, pharmacy,etc go through a non iMessage service. Apple needs to open up the protocol and allow an API gateway so regular SMS messages can get through. Then we can all dump the unlimited text plans or the 30 cents ala carte text plans.

I don't know where in the world you are, but at my daughter's high school nearly everyone has an iPhone. Theft is rampant, too -- my daughter's iPhone (one of my hand-me-downs) even got jacked once and she's very careful.

And this is not some high-end private school -- it's a Texas public school with low- to middle-class kids.

My daughter tells me the trends in this blog post are right on, except the driving force for SnapChat seems to be porn.

The carriers have pretty much gotten around that by pulling the ol' switcheroo. Instead of unlimited data and limited calls and SMS, now you get unlimited calls and SMS and limited data.

In some places- for instance, my school- iOS penetration is probably above 60%. Mind you, this is a school district populated by quite a few low-income families. In more affluent areas, it's north of 90%.

"Apple needs to open up the protocol and allow an API gateway so regular SMS messages can get through."

Apple creating an API wouldn't accomplish much, since Apple still wouldn't have access to the SMS message streams. The mobile carriers would have to route SMS traffic to Apple's gateway, and they're not likely to agree to that, since SMS is a huge cash cow for them.

One possibility would be to cut SMS out entirely, by convincing the senders of these messages (banks, etc.) to connect directly to Apple's API instead of sending SMS. But the problem is that Apple's service is proprietary, and all the people on Android phones will be on competing services with different APIs. So banks would have to figure out how to talk to all these different APIs. This isn't a compelling issue for banks to be spending their efforts on, since any customer who wants to receive their banking alerts without using SMS already can: these alerts are also available via e-mail, which is an open, universal and standardized protocol.

An alternate approach would be for Apple to create an e-mail to iMessage gateway that would give each user a dedicated e-mail address that would forward to their iMessage stream (similar to the many e-mail to SMS gateways that currently exist). Users could then subscribe that e-mail address to their banking alerts. Another advantage of avoiding SMS entirely is that it's an unreliable protocol, in which 1-5% of messages are lost[1]. So if your alert is actually important, you may not want to entrust it to SMS in the first place.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMS#Unreliability

Sure, Apple couldn't grab the SMS streams, but the banks, pharmacies, etc, could offer an iMessage option to use in the place of SMS.

You don't need an iPhone to use Facetime.

I have a 6 and 8 yr old and both received iPad minis for Christmas and they have already FaceTimed with their friends and cousins via their new devices.

And we are now spending a lot of time educating our children how to properly utilize technology to communicate with their friends. That includes a number of very firm rules and regulations.

Care to share some of those rules?

Do the rules/regs end up being fodder for creativity on how to break said rules/regs? I would imagine that is one of the problems with having smart and clever kids.

Not if you are an active and involved parent.

I don't think the Facebook issue has anything to do with their brand. I think the attitude that Facebook is addicting actually has more to do with people becoming bored with the service and noticing how much time they actually spend on it.


>> "... my friends and I used Myspace in middle school, and we too abandoned it (for Facebook) once we reached high school"

The conclusion drawn here might be incorrect. I'm not sure of the age of the author but could it be that he reached high school at the time when Myspace had fallen out of favour with most people and everyone was beginning to transition to Facebook?

It's an interesting post, particularly the part about Snapchat. His sister's use of it seems to fit with the way Facebook was advertising Poke (I thought they just had to find another angle besides sexting but it sounds like there are other uses for it). After hearing this description it sounds like something I might use. A lot of the photos I share on Twitter/Instagram and things I find interesting or funny but I never need to see again. I usually have to then go and delete them from my camera roll and occasionally I go back through my Instagram feed and delete them. The idea of Snapchat (expiring images) seems to be what I need.

I think he's right to question the viability of the brand. Facebook has accumulated a pretty incredible amount of unflattering connotations over time, and is now probably one of the least cool tech companies around, at least in the eyes of normal people. Personally I find it telling that the people I respect the most are those that publicly post on Facebook the least (naturally I use it post publicly never :) )

The danger here is that once a company gets uncool, they often get desperate to try and prove that they're cool again. For an example of how well that tends to work out, see Microsoft's increasingly-shrill efforts to prove that they're still hip. The problem as far as I see it stems from the fact that the best companies project an image of selflessness - they're not actually trying to make money, they're just people who have a really, really amazing product, that they love so much, and are so happy introducing to the world. Once a company gets uncool and desperate, and starts casting around trying to reinvent themselves, they are basically openly admitting that their only purpose is to make money and their only desire is to beat their competition. This is Microsoft's position right now, and it's not tenable in the long-term in my opinion. People just don't like desperation and the dishonest posturing it breeds. Facebook could walk right into that same trap (not helped by the fact that Mark Zuckerberg is so uncool.)

Do you personally know Mark Zuckerberg? Maybe you meant that the popular image of him in the media is uncool.

No. Based on everything I have seen or heard of him in the media, including videos of him in speaking or interacing in social situations. He seems extremely awkward and completely bereft of charisma. The polar opposite of Jobs.

> I think the attitude that Facebook is addicting actually has more to do with people becoming bored with the service and noticing how much time they actually spend on it.

This is still something Facebook should solve. Facebook, despite its public groups and pages, still fosters incredibly insular communities, and those can get tedious very quickly. The reason Tumblr and Twitter have any popularity is that they encourage finding and following new, interesting people. They have a lot more novel content and it's easy to explore and find more of it. If Facebook gets seen as the boring, traditional social network (which to some degree it has), then that seriously damages its credibility.

> The reason Tumblr and Twitter have any popularity is that they encourage finding and following new, interesting people.

Yes yes yes. There's a huge unsolved problem in the social networking space: meeting new people near you (for purposes other than dating or sex, but that too)

That'll be the next truly big thing, I think. It might focus on places or events, like connecting people who are going to a concert or a bar. That's sort of what I hoped FourSquare would be, but it's even more insular and boring.

Facebook used to solve this (at least for college students) with class listings. That was a really killer feature for a large part of their user base that got axed when they launched the app platform and expected an app to take its place. Problem is, of course, 50 apps took its place and none of them won.

What were class listings?

It's a hard problem to solve especially when the draw of Facebook is that you have a smaller network of people you actually know. You're right the definitely need to do something. I think they are trying to by creating a separate pages feed for example but even that isn't good enough yet.

"she swore all of her friends would use if one of my “entrepreneur friends” built it: a FaceTime-esque app that’s free."

I don't get it - aren't there a ton of video chat apps? Not only the big ones (google, skype), but lots of startups as well - oovoo, etc?

Must be the data consumption part. AT&T starter package is 300 MB a month.

Yep. The answer might be in someone who figures out how to optimize video chat for efficiency.

If the quality is too low, though, the benefits to communication from seeing your partner's facial features synchronized with their voice disappear, and people won't bother using it.

If software identified the user's face in live video and transmitted just that at high resolution, discarding or compressing the rest, how much efficiency could be gained?

Actually an interesting idea - in this context Facebook's purchase of Face.com might seem prescient.

Separately - as data gets cheaper and video chat is further optimized, video chat over 3G/4G becomes more feasible. Probably our answer to this is in the countries that have abundant bandwidth? What do high schoolers in Korea/Scandinavia use for video chat?

My girlfriend is Korean and she uses Skype for video chat.

Adaptive lossy compression already does that implicitly. Static background content will consume very little bandwidth. A bad case might be if you are riding in a vehicle so the background is moving a lot...then it could be good to eliminate it. But this use case doesn't seem so common today.

The MPEG-4 facial animation standard is quite bandwidth-efficient. I don't think any apps currently use it.


Edit: I mean to suggest that photos might be the optimization.

Potentially, but I think the gap facetime/skype fills is real time, whereas snapchat is async no matter how you slice it. It's explicitly a call+response method of communication that the receiver can engage right away, or view tomorrow, and respond tomorrow. While sending a recorded video or highly compressed pic will benefit from more efficient data transfer, its still not quite the same as a live open video chat.

Google+ hangouts are bandwidth optimized.

The key is they want to chat while not wifi connected. Unlimited SMS vs unlimited data. This was something I figured the unlicensed whitespace spectrum might solve but nothing has emerged yet.

I don't understand the FaceTime is too expensive comment. Before iOS 6 it was completely free, and now it's only not free in terms of celluar data usage when not on WiFi. When you switch a phone call over to FaceTime, it stops taking minutes away.

The real drawback to FaceTime is that it's iOS/MacOS only.

I was baffled by the "Facetime is expensive" comment. I'm in the UK. Are data plans that limited and WiFi that uncommon? How much data does Facetime use?

The Facetime/iMessage slant is interesting. Do any of her peers have Android phones? Do platform choices follow class/ethnicity/age/region patterns to the extent where it's not even on her radar?

You are right to be baffled. We in the US are also baffled.

The US has a horrible wireless data market. It's not like the UK or Europe in general. The companies here have a strong enough legal lobbies to keep their monopolistic control over data. We're behind in terms of the amount of bandwidth we can access and how much it costs. These companies typically make over 50% margin on profits while at the same time complain that they do not have the resources to expand bandwidth, or that the US is too geographically spread out.

Almost all the "unlimited" plans in the US actually has a limit. Typically, after a certain amount of usage, the bitrate gets capped. There are a good bit of wifi, but I suppose that then depends on if you want to find a coffee shop just to chat on FaceTime.

I'm assuming the article was written by an author living in the US.

I don't understand why FaceTime is viewed as expensive. Isn't it free? I guess you pay for data, but 95% of the time I'm on wifi (home, office), and I'd assume schools, wherever kids spend time (coffee shops?), etc. have wifi too.

High schools generally don't have much in the way of WiFi coverage.

I'm also a 15 years old teenager living in Argentina, but here things are somewhat different.

First, no one has a "real" smartphone, most are cheap Nokia phones with some applications for Facebook: People who have money usually buy BlackBerries, I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace (Being an Android fan) that I bought in Spain: but truth is smartphones are really expensive.

Facebook... everything is about Facebook here: Teenagers don't use any other IM service besides Facebook Messenger, they even use it in their phones. I find it extremely painful to communicate because I need to keep a Facebook window tab opened if I want to chat with someone (Well, I use Pidgin now).

I don't even go into Facebook, the Facebook feed looks like browsing /r/funny New in Reddit, people don't post original content: Just memes copied from the internet and cristian stuff.

People tend to have a lot of friends in Facebook: I think I don't have more than 50 friends: Those who I really would like to talk with me and have access to my pictures.

What people really use here is ask.fm , I'm not sure if people in other countries use it: but the basic idea is that you create an account and people (Logged, or as Anonymous) post you questions and you answer: Then it gets posted in your Facebook.

I don't understand why would anyone want to use that service: The questions are dumb and nosense. Other questions are personal, and some people still answer that. Nowadays most of my Facebook feed is 75% ask.fm links, it's really annoying.

Other services? Some people use Twitter, but not really; mostly teenagers following One Direction and Justin Bieber.

Blogging? Nah, no one reads blogs: they don't like reading anything larger than a couple lines of text (I think this: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-ma... can be relevant).

Youtube... they like dumb vlogs and some people like gameplays, I find this kind of videos very annoying and dumb.

Oh, not even mention Mail: most of people can't remember their passwords, for me, Mail is vital. Tumblr? No one knows what that is. Ah, no one uses Instagram either, and I'm glad...

So resuming: Teenagers only use the internet for Facebook, and, sometimes, reading the Wikipedia (When they have to do something for school) and that's really bad: They have a wonderful tool that they don't want to use, although the language (Most of teenagers don't have a good level of English, or at least they refuse to read English) can be an impediment.

For me the internet is amazing: you can learn whatever you want, for free, thanks to tools like Khan Academy, Coursera and Udacity: But people refuse to, and the language is not the only issue. I think we should focus our knowledge into motivating the Teenagers to get interested into this, instead of developing more applications like Poke or a Facetime killer.

The person who figures out how to get teens to spend their free time learning instead of socializing is going to go down in history. The answer likely lies somewhere in the socializing, but I have no idea what it is.

And way to take advantage of the myriad of educational opportunities that exist online. I would have done anything for access to them when I was a kid; instead, I had to go to the (gasp) library.

I think we are going to see a growing intellectual gulf between the few that take advantage of these tools and the masses who don't. There are so many opportunities that can really give somebody a significant boost; a much greater boost than was offered to those of us who didn't have much more than books in the past. And I'm always encouraged when I see the kids who do take advantage of it.

I think learning is inherently social.

Part of the problem is the mindset that creates a false dichotomy between "learning" and "socializing." One consequence of this mindset is the idea or impression that "learning" involves locking oneself in a room, opening a book, and sticking with it until one learns the material.

An example in language acquisition: http://www.ted.com/talks/patricia_kuhl_the_linguistic_genius...

Language acquisition is not a good example to use here. Our minds are primed with pre-built language circuitry and as children we pick up the specifics of our environmental language effortlessly.

The learning we do throughout our post-infancy lives bears no resemblance to language learning. It is done using that effortlessly-acquired language structure, but in itself it takes hard work and effort. Unlike language, it goes "against the grain" of our evolved instincts. It can indeed be catalysed through judicious social interaction - comparing results, swapping tips, etc. - but the core of adult learning is focused, isolated study. Social environments for learning are a supplement, useful in moderation, but usually destructive and much more likely to result in groupthink, lowest-common-denominator mediocrity, and poor efficiencies in failing to optimise for the wide range of needs and aptitudes distributed among individuals when used in excess.

For sure. Do you have any research I can read?

There's tons of ink spilled about child development and learning, but precious little about adult learning.

I help run Dev Bootcamp so knowing as much about this as I can is really important to me. :)

Sorry, I can see how reading my comment would give the impression that I speak from great authority, but I was mostly just voicing my own preferences and prejudices about learning. I took a look at the introductory video for your service and it seems like a very professional, carefully-structured course - I do think learning in groups can work well if there is a clear, thoughfully-conceived structure for interaction. And it must surely help that you select for motivated, intelligent people - motivation is the key to real learning at any stage in life, I'd say.

I have had some experience with attempts to get groups of people to create or work together in groups with little to no structure and it never works. But I have not had much experience with the sort of structured social learning you offer (I think architect schools do a lot of this sort of structured, group creation-cum-learning - might be worth checking out.)

I do think that locking yourself in a room with a book and focussing is important, at least to build the platform of understanding from which you can move to group interactions. That's certainly my preference for the things I teach myself, and I think it is crucial for building basic understanding and confidence with the ideas. Of course there are chokepoints, especially with something like coding where at some point you need to actually start creating, where measured, structured guidance must be immensely helpful. But I think you need a rhythm - independent learning, then taking the problems and confusions you've built up into a social setting, then independent work again - I think real, 100% focus on a problem is a solitary activity. But perhaps from your own experience with DBC you can offer me some counter-examples?

"I do think that locking yourself in a room with a book and focussing is important, at least to build the platform of understanding from which you can move to group interactions."

Studying learning is inherently difficult because it requires intelligent people to try and figure out how they got that way. The tendency is to extend personal learning styles upon the population!

In this case, I bet that you learn the best from sitting down and reading a book. I'd double down and suggest that you take incredible notes and that your favourite books are thick with notes and underlined passages.

If I'm correct, it means that you learn best from reading/writing. This is one of the most common learning styles. However, some people are auditory learners (they learn the best during lectures), others are visual learners (they learn best when graphics are used to explain the concepts), and still others are kinesthetic (they learn best from doing).

To complicate matters, these learning styles are far from perfect type theories. In practice, people employ different learning strategies in different situations.

Is there a particular aspect of adult learning that you're most interested in? It's a very large field, but one that I got rather obsessed with. If you have some specific areas of interest (or if you'd simply like a reading list), my email address is in my profile.

>> The person who figures out how to get teens to spend their free time learning instead of socializing is going to go down in history.

Shouldn't teenage years be spent having fun? :) For some learning is fun (I enjoyed it to a certain extent and used things like iTunes U a lot) but even if there was a way to learn that was fun for everyone most teenagers will still want to go to parties, drink alcohol, and waste time. I think it's a cultural thing more than an aversion to learning and I don't think technology will change it (for the majority of teenagers).

Going to parties, drinking alcohol, and wasting time is a form of learning. How to live life, how to make mistakes, and where you're going to fit in in the world is probably one of the most important thing you learn as a teenager.

Getting trashed is developmentally harmful to pre-18 brains, getting pregnant or knocking someone up or getting a disease is not helpful, and there are easier ways for most people to learn than to make horrible and even irreparable mistakes very early. Also, bad habits often survive into adulthood. This isn't where anyone should be forced to fit into the world until after they have a real chance to decide.

If a kid learns to have just one drink, don't be a junkie, use protection and waste time only judiciously by 18, they will be able to learn more from higher education or career than if they learned it's good to act like a mindlessly hedonistic animal with no concept of the future.

You can spend your first 40 years sticking your tongue into electrical sockets, this is technically some form of learning, but it's not a great way to have a good chance in life. There is all the time in the world to waste and act stupid, after you have the basic bearings of adulthood.

Yeah, but... If you are the one teenager who decides it is too risky to jump off the cliff into the river... Enjoy sitting on your own while everyone else has fun - enjoy never getting invited to the river again - enjoy sitting at home playing videogames as the braver boys wander off with into the grass with all the cute girls.

Teenage impulsivity and risk-tasking are reproductively optimal strategies (the actual rates of death and disability from these activities are usually low anyway) even if you like to look down your nose at them. And people who engage in those activities often end up doing just fine in later life, as well-adjusted, popular, confident adults, with a history of sexual success.

Maybe they're not optimal strategies for being a high-performing time-efficient adult, but so what? Natural selection only cares about babes and babies.

Sure, and that might monopolize 5% of a busy teenager's time. No justification for being uneducated, uncreative, or unproductive in the remaining time...

That's true, and I don't think the various levels of parent posters would disagree: I think they're referring to constant inanity and a complete inability to pay attention to anything substantial.

Socializing is educational. Perhaps the lessons become repetitive without moderation. But the odds that a teen locked in a room full of books will be happy or successful in life are small to nil. One that can successfully manage the intricacies of interpersonal relationships has much better odds. (And of course one that can do both is best off.)

Yes, yes. This is true, and I sure know it, but people are different, and the time for learning is also fairly short. You can learn rapidly from your preteen years until you are around 30. That's it. Beyond that you are losing neurons and building on past knowledge. So while it's important to become socialized and maintain relationships, if someone is inclined to be an intellect, they should pursue that. Great athletes didn't become great by balancing their practice with time spent at the library. They did enough to get by, maybe get into college, often with the help of tutors.

Yeah, that's pretty insightful. I can sort of see it happening with games - both Words With Friends and Brainbow Numbers are about playing turn-by-turn while socializing, I'm not sure if you can take games beyond trivial disciplines though.

A social game to learn a foreign language would be interesting.

Actually part of my holistic goals - not just teenagers mind you, but get everyone being more social, engaged, happy, interested in life, motivated, learning, productive, etc..

Sadly, no one has a "real" smartphone in Argentina due to president Cristina Kirchner's import restrictions, not due to lack of income.

I live in Uruguay, right across the border, same median income basically, and a lot of people have smartphones: there's a chinese smartphone with Android made by ZTE for Movistar that is given away for free, and Samsung Galaxy Mini is also free with 15 dollar contracts. Huawei also has a very cheap smartphone.

I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace as well, which is the most popular smartphone as it is among the cheapest handed out by the state telephone company (Antel).

Another very popular smartphone is the very old Galaxy 3 with Android 2.1 or 2.2 (NOT SIII - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samsung_Galaxy_3 )

I can second the fact that Facebook is king here, I have 3 teenager cousins and 2 nephews about dysoco's age, and they use Facebook a lot. Twitter only to follow Justin Bieber and One Direction as well :) .

I also see a lot of ask.fm links, no idea why.

ask.fm sounds very similar to formspring (http://www.formspring.me). Formspring used to be popular about two years ago.

ask.fm grew more than 5000% in Latin America this past year http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2012/12/Arge...

ask.fm sounds like a incarnation of formspring.me About four or so years back my facebook feed heavily consisted of people answering anonymous questions. It went out of popularity after a few months so I wouldn't worry to much about that. It be interesting to see if there is a resurgence of similar sites in the states though. As the youth bracket cycles perhaps sites cycle as well. Same functions, but with different names.

offtopic: Are you from Buenos Aires?

Yes, but not from the City, from the coast.

ok, please check for my e-mail to your gmail account. Thanks.

This diverse view is very good. It's always promising to pay attention outside of your generation and use-case. Family and friends are a great starter, but try different neighborhoods , cities, or even countries - there are a LOT more opportunities out there.

Sadly, one thing I've found with people's suggestions (and I've heard a lot of "next hot app" suggestions as I'm sure you have as well) already exist. They just don't know that they do. Maybe there's a job for bringing those apps to those people? How meta.

Curious - all of our parents' preferred methods of communication cost money...letters, long distance phone calls, mobile phone calls. All of Josh's sister's (and her peer sets) methods of communication cost nothing (Instagram, Facebook, Kik, Twitter, Tumblr). Just an observation. Implications of this? Will companies one day pay us to talk to each other?!

Separately - isn't Skype basically Facetime over 3G/4G (and not just wi-fi)? What is Skype lacking here?

Josh's sister's (and her peer sets) methods of communication cost nothing

You gotta have a data plan to access these from anywhere. Most schools don't have wifi. So, the actually can cost more than phone calls, letter etc...

Fair point actually - didn't consider that the cost is embedded. That said, How often are those the data hogs? (Anecdotally from myself, I rarely come near the data caps). My assumption is that even today, video apps are the most data intensive - outside of those, are folks hitting their data caps on a regular basis?

In my point of view, skype is way too slow on ios. It takes ages to load and lags somehow.

I experience this also. In addition, the UI is kludged into iOS - they just did their best to port the desktop UI. It works, as apps go, but obviously wasn't built from the ground up for mobile.

Interesting to me are the generational service abandonment patterns.

The author mentions abandoning MySpace moving into highschool like the subject graduates past Tumblr.

It's symbolic of the maturing nature of the individual. In the future perhaps social networks will find a way to iterate their brand with each generation to prevent losing users to another new service.

Is it so much the individual maturing, and not just the platform itself losing relevance? The whole nature of these social platforms seems to be entirely ephemeral - they spread by word of mouth because others are using it. The problem comes in when you consider that a person isn't going to use more than 2 or 3 of these platforms. So as soon as a new platform is released, older platforms are guaranteed to lose users even if the new platform is worse, as it will take a number of weeks or months for a typical user to understand and then reject the new platform. During that time, the older platform isn't being used.

This exact issue seems to apply to online gaming as well, so this isn't some new discovery of human behavior. There are some 'big' games (warcraft, cod) that retain their users even after a decade - but they do this by reinventing themselves and recreating their products constantly. I think social media and gaming are similar enough for a lot of these behavior traits to apply to social media also - which means the correct approach is to redesign/improve core parts of your social platform at least once a year to keep it relevant.

And if these patterns hold how can any social media service be the next big anything?

People just want a consistent interface to communicate. There's no UX reason to separate email, facebook, instachat twumblr or whatever from each other.

Yes there are different reasons for communicating but they can all function under one roof. The next big trend of sending pokes with 12 second color corrected videos that get deleted after watching can live inside Facebook, G+, or TwEmail 3.0

My gut reaction is "not going to happen." Because I think people are drawn to companies with honest, relaxed attitudes - not companies carefully calculating their identity to win a new market share and desperately attempting to avoid obsolescence. And I think this consumer preference is becoming even more influential as the main arena of corporate competition becomes increasingly digital and social. Look at how successful Microsoft has been so far at proving that it's still cool.

But then, maybe you're right - maybe we should look forward to some incredibly sophisticated, calculating companies in the future.

15 year olds definitely want to have "compatibility with different systems" including the source of their pay packets, allowance, and access to resources - ie old people and their old email.

But it turns out email, even if used infrequently, is still important. It's easy to have multiple accounts sit there indefinitely. Not controlled by one fatcat pulling privacy strings and strategizing your online activity.

Meanwhile another million blue 'f' logos are printed, each destined for a shopfront window, cash register, door. Beckoning the registration and sign up and sign over of your stuff. In return, FB tells a few advertisers about you and your stuff. And FB also reserves the right to build the mechanics of your social communications, private and public, the particulars of which will be in accordance with Facebook's sole decision and strategy in an advertiser-hungry world... And other things without notice and so on.

To be clear, Facebook doesn't tell any advertisers any information about any users. Advertisers tell Facebook what kinds of people they want to see their advertisement, and Facebook shows the advertisement to those kinds of people.

Supposedly :-) I am always amazed at how poorly personalized facebook are for me or my friends. Basically it's always made of 60% "meeting someone from the area" aka some shaddy semi-porn website. I am really curious of the efficient of advertisement on FB. I know some large brand (GM I think?) pulled off FB because they did not see any ROI.

I wonder if it holds true worldwide and for smaller brands...


For me, Twitter is predominantly a link discovery service — admittedly, that is a simplified view, but it’s helpful for these purposes — so I followed-up on her Twitter comments by asking where she discovers links. “What do you mean?” She couldn’t even understand what I was asking. I rephrased the question: “What links do you read? What sites do they come from? What blogs?”

"I don’t read links. I don’t read blogs. I don’t know. You mean like funny videos on Facebook? Sometimes people post funny links there. But I’m not really interested in anything yet, like you are."

Television was a major blow to reading for decades up until the internet, but now even the internet is starting to destroy literacy. It's very unsettling.

My impression is the exact opposite: I see people reading and debating more than ever thanks to the internet. I think thanks to the internet we are in a golden era of literacy, but we just don't notice it because we're too busy complaining with other highly-literate people on highly debate-focussed websites such at this one about the more obvious non-literary manifestations of popular culture.

One need only look as far as Reddit to see that HN is highly unusual in this respect.

People were plenty stupid before the Internet. It was just hidden before, now it's all out in the open.

Let's just see what happens next - remember, we're only about three to four years into a fully online society :)

Stupid is one thing. Disinterested in reading is my primary concern.

I'm going to break the "Don't mention my age." rule to write this post. Only because here it's relevant.

What you use and how you use it has a lot of factors besides age. It has to do with your friends, their friends, where you live, what school you go to or what job you have, etc etc.

I'd like to share an anecdote about umwelt. A few days ago, I walked into a coffee shop. I sat in that coffee shop for two hours.[0] When I first walked in my jaw hit the floor as I scanned the room. Everyone had tablets, young, old, there was no common pattern. There was one person I could see reading a physical book, and two graphic designers in the back with Macbooks. My first thought was "Either I'm living in a bubble, or coffee shops are a bubble.".

I figured that if this is what it looks like in suburbia, then it must be even crazier elsewhere. That's when it hit me. If silicon valley developers do their work in coffee shops, and all they ever see there is mobile devices, then they'll naturally develop for mobile devices. But then mobile is new, hot, and growing all the time. IIRC mobile sales have already outdone consumer desktop and laptop sales.

Are developers choosing mobile because it's new and big, or because they see it in coffee shops all the time? Probably both. They're not exactly mutually exclusive. Just like how you have to ask if consumers are switching to tablets because laptops are too bulky, or because they're more usable, or because that's where the focus of every up and coming developer is right now? Probably a combination of all three and more.

All of that might have seemed pretty obvious to you. Well it wasn't to me, heres why:

1. In my circle of friends, everyone still uses desktops or laptops. Having only a laptop seems to be a result of financial concerns, not a lack of demand for a desktop.

2. At my school a handful of people have tablets. Me being one of them. A group of kids asked me what kind of cellphone it was when I first used it in class.

3. Among my friends Facebook seems to be the dominant communication medium, alongside telephone services. I only use the latter.

4. My school has uncommon demographics, The vast vast majority could be described as one or more of the following: Nerd, Hipster, Extreme anime and manga fan, Gamer. So I guess I myself sort of live in a bubble. I don't even own a cellphone.

I live on the west coast of the US. Not exactly a remote location.

[0]: This was the first time I've ever actually sat down in a coffee shop.

Based on my observations (qualifications: I go to a fair number of busy cafes a lot :): Around here (Tokyo area, mostly western Tokyo [Shibuya, Shinjuku, etc]) there was a big jump in coffee-shop tablet usage a year or two back. They largely seemed to displace laptop users.

Subsequently, however, tablets seem to have almost completely disappeared from cafe/coffee-shops; usage on trains is also down. Maybe people still use them at home or something I dunno, but at least in public usage they showed every sign of a classic fad...

Interestingly, laptop usage doesn't seem to have recovered... most people either chat to real friends, use their smartphone (often together with their friends), ... or read (yes, real book usage seems to be up quite a bit)...

I wager it's just too annoying to carry around a tablet, and smartphones are now good enough that they've largely displaced them in public "on the go" usage, where portability is a key factor.

You actually didn't mention your age. I gather from the rest of your comment, you're in high school?

You have a lot of good thoughts about the mobile/tablet stuff and I think you're right. Just to add some quantitative info to it, I work for an e-commerce site and a quarter of our traffic is mobile, and that's not including people using our native mobile apps, which means that our real mobile traffic is more than 25%. I don't believe that includes tablets, but I'm not sure (there isn't a tablet-specific site, although we do have native tablet apps.)

> You actually didn't mention your age. I gather from the rest of your comment, you're in high school?


Honestly, every time I use a tablet the first thing on my mind is the firmware invading my privacy. The next thing though is input devices. (I'll probably end up flashing cyanogen mod.)

Input devices, for most users, and even most developers, are something assumed. For desktop it's keyboard and mouse, for laptop it's keyboard and some kind of mouse-like input device. For tablets it's touch or buttons. For phones it's touch or buttons. (I don't think most tablets that use buttons, like e-readers, are open for development. Correct me if I'm wrong though.)

I'm going to reiterate what I've already said before, touch sucks as a universal interface. [0] So my question ends up being "What peripherals make sense for a mobile device?". Recently I received a tiny bluetooth keyboard to type on my Nexus 7. That's a step in the right direction, as typing things out with the on-screen keyboard is painful and awkward. (And since a stylus is too slow, smudges up the display...)

For a pointer device I am using a capacitive stylus. My current hypothesis is that the dominant paradigm for tablets will be keyboard and pen. Though for delicate tasks such as drawing, a capacitive stylus leaves much to be desired. IMO touch should be, in the majority of cases, a fallback interface for people without peripherals. For most applications it doesn't beat traditional input devices such as pens keyboards and mice of one sort or another.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3606002

Touch beats pens, keyboards, and mice in the respect that you don't have to carry around a bunch of peripherals. Nearly everybody has fingers and spent the first couple years of their lives learning to use them.

Your complaint about touch interfaces probably has more to do with buying a really shitty MP3 player than anything inherent about touch.

>Your complaint about touch interfaces probably has more to do with buying a really shitty MP3 player than anything inherent about touch.

I just mentioned I have a Nexus 7. Same complaints mostly. Though the touch is more responsive in the 7, doesn't really alleviate my complaints. (I never complained about latency on the Sanza because it's a sub $100 device and can't be expected to have decent capacitive touch hardware. Which is part of the reason it should use buttons, there was no reason to make it a device driven by touch.)

That and I haven't seen very many "gestures" in the android apps I use. Though I've heard a lot of hype about them.

>Touch beats pens, keyboards, and mice in the respect that you don't have to carry around a bunch of peripherals. Nearly everybody has fingers and spent the first couple years of their lives learning to use them.

Yes, yes it does. Which is why it was probably a smart idea to force developers to assume only a touch screen for most applications, it stops them from requiring a stylus for stuff that doesn't need it. At the same time, using a tablet with just your fingers is really painful, and theres no way I'm the only person who holds this opinion.

And theres a reason tablet keyboards are so small, and usually clamp onto the device they're built for, it's because nobody is going to lug around a full sized 104 key desktop keyboard. And pens are small, they fit in your pocket easily. Together they probably fix enough of the weaknesses touch has as an interface to make a tablet usable as more than a toy.

when I say touch should be a "fallback" interface, that might imply it shouldn't receive regular use. I really mean something closer to "default". A good example might be GIMP. (Or any other image editor, like photoshop.) People who are serious about drawing digitally usually buy a drawing tablet, or in decades past some sort of light pen. But because drawing tablets work like any other pointing device from the operating systems perspective, users who prefer a drawing tablet can use one without locking out users who only have an optical mouse, and vice versa.

A capacitive touch stylus is compatible with touch screens, meaning that for applications that don't require extreme delicacy, pens and touch can co-exist without carrying around any large peripherals. Users who don't want to buy any fancy add-ons are happy, users who can't stand smudging their screen and cleaning it with a glasses cloth are happy too.

"Touch beats pens, keyboards, and mice in the respect that you don't have to carry around a bunch of peripherals."

That's the only way in which it beats those things, in particular keyboards. In most other aspects (e.g., usability) it falls far, far short.

    Are developers choosing mobile because it's new and big, or because they see it in coffee shops all the time?
Mobile devices give unskilled users access to incredible computing power everywhere they go. All else equal, if my app X works in more environments than your app Y, my app > your app. Mobile support can be an inherent competitive advantage in many cases. It may not be. It depends on your app and your users.

Things change a lot once you begin to have disposable income. Almost everyone my age has a smartphone.

Same here. I'm an outlier in that respect.

I think it makes total sense that no one she knows reads blogs. Most kids don't read the paper, or read books for fun. This is not so much devolution of reading habits as democratization of computer usage.

This is true, but there are also kids her age who do read the paper, and it's actually a prime age for pleasure reading. His sister probably isn't going to take up reading or writing for reasons other than necessity. SaMo is not a crappy community - it's a wealthy one really - and very well educated, so if she's not interested now, she probably won't be in the future.

Yeah. Computing has trickled down from the intellectual elite to the masses. I suspect more curious, analytical and information-seeking attitudes will trickle down in time too.

Tenth graders are customers without credit cards. How are snapchat and all the free apps generating revenue? ads?

Granted, I'm in 11th grade, but I and most others I know have a non-trivial amount of cash. (Though, since I have no income for 75% of the year, I try not to spend anything.)

Most people in my cohort aren't exactly destitute. Certainly, a business could make money selling to teenagers. They just couldn't achieve the volume that something like Facebook has.

Generally, people like free things and have a disregard for their privacy, (myself included) which is why ads are far more lucrative.

HOWEVER: This observation is not necessarily reflective of the generation at large, so I would take this with a grain of salt.

When I was in tenth grade I'd just use my dad's credit card.

They can buy itunes gift cards from stores and do in app purchases ;)

They have credit /debit cards linked to parent accounts.

Don't they have debit cards in their own name?

Pretty hard to do if you're under 18, banks want a legally responsible person to own the account.

Debit cards in theory do not allow any debt, thus there's not so much of a problem allowing under 18s to have them.

See this UK account for 11 to 18 year olds which allows a debit card.


HSBC give you a savings account when you're seven, and add a current account when you're 11, with a VISA debit card.


A lot of US banks still want 18-year olds or a parental guarantee.

US banks love overage fees (making credit card interest rates an amazing bargain). Plus there is the liability of checks/ACH which can cause overdrafts.

I think debit cards are easy. I had one around 15 and my sister even younger. It was my account, but it was linked to my mom's so she should could transfer money into it.

I am under 18, and my bank allows minors to open an account independently. It's pretty common in the US.

Being an 11th grader I can honestly say this is bizarre since I associate so well with both Josh and his sister at the same time. Kids use social media differently than the middle-aged.

Josh being in his 20s, it's funny to see that high schoolers already consider us "middle aged" :)

I don't think that's a majority opinion. And if it is then it's certainly not a new trend.

I don't plan on dying at 40 anyway.

Look, some people get into Princeton, and some don't. LOl.

People are different, and in my experience, some brainy people like twitter and other link finding services, to find things to READ. We watch instructional videos or download all the awesome lectures that universities have posted. We use facebook, but end up posting links to news stories and even longer things like wikipedia articles and actual papers and prose. We like Reddit and even stackexchange. We love wikipedia.

We're a minority. Way more people like to take photos of each other and send them to each other. They like to share photos of the cat, babies, etc. They share inspirational poetry.

Even more people just want videophone of some kind, or something like twitter, but sans too much linking. More photos. t.co for everything.

I know someone who got internet mainly for consuming porn and maybe some video games. He's an adult, has a college degree, and works with people who wish kids would read more, or be more interested in school, or basically be more like the brainy kids. He didn't go to college because he loved knowledge. He went to get a middle class job, and because his parents went to college.

Personally, I was the first to go to college in my family, and went to a good one. I'm a big nerd. My brother and I taught ourselves to program computers. (He's smarter than me, too.) I liked to read. I still mostly read online. I've put up a few left-wing websites, have an almost obligatory anger toward the boss (comes from growing up working class), and still buy books.

I just accept that people are different. Some people are into reading, and others aren't. Some people like to think about things, and others are more about looking at people. Some people go with the flow, and others don't.

I'm not quite sure what statement you're making here? Where does Princeton, or education at all, have to do with what 15 year olds use for technology?

My take on social Internet trends and technology seems to be everything is rushing towards mobility and has been since about 2004.

When I first got on the Internet in the early 90s you sat at a desk with a CRT monitor and used a dial-up 14.4Kbps modem when the phone wasn't being used by your mom or sister. I didn't even have a cellphone yet.

Then into the PDA phase, wifi came along, cable Internet, then better phones, more people on the web, commerce really picked up and then blogs etc.

Each generation is exposed to mobile technology that's more powerful and the Internet it seems to young people isn't seen as a thing that is on monitor but a poor version of it is now on my phone, it's a tool to be used. Even tablets I can't see being popular like phones since they're too big, now if you had a folding tablet like Microsoft's killed-off Courier I could see that being popular.

I can see mobility being the only way the Internet will be used by young people teens to 20s. The desktop computer will be too formal and seen as too stuffy and slow, chained to a desk at home.

>I can see mobility being the only way the Internet will be used by young people teens to 20s. The desktop computer will be too formal and seen as too stuffy and slow, chained to a desk at home.

This is already the case. I have 2 teenage brothers; one (somewhat tech savvy) uses almost exclusively his tablet + mobile phone (he only uses his laptop to run a webradio); the other one (not tech savvy at all) only uses his cellphone.

A few observations:

1. Facebook is trying to stay relevant by copying promising social network features (e.g. Whatsapp, Snapchat, Foursquare, ...)

2. Although Facebook is trying hard, it's having a tough time competing with the new social network because of preconceived notion of what Facebook is. (Facebook is news feed of personal social graph, not ephemeral real-time chat like Snapchat.) More on this: http://www.futureofsocialnetwork.com/2012/12/social-network-...

3. Although Facebook is having hard time competing with new, it has the big enough network to be the social platform. People still have account because of network-effect.

Interesting commentary. However, a sample size on one doesn't yield a substantive-enough dataset to draw conclusions. As a high schooler, I can tell you that service use varies wildly based on location and demographic.

Moreover, Josh's sister didn't really differentiate between her preferences and the preferences of her cohort in general. She may have very idiosyncratic social media use-cases. I know the way in which I use social media is very different from the way in which some of my friends use it, which in turn differs from the way many others use it. People are different, and they use services differently.

I would take any assertion of how people use social media with a big grain of salt.

Josh doesn't imply otherwise.

He is explicit that this post represents reflections on a conversation he had with his sister; it is indeed anecdotal.

The value of the article is not in its statistical likelihood, but rather, in recognizing how his assumptions blinded him. And actually listening to people.

How is he to know if he was "blind?"

The fact that one girl exhibited preferences counter to his assumptions does not mean that those assumption are incorrect.

Because he expresses uncertainty in more than one of his take-aways. He uses stronger language when he has more confidence in the idea.

"This may have..." or "I believe" or "this seems" all suggest he isn't stating fact and is instead thinking out loud about the possible implications of his experience.

In other words: it's obvious the author knows he is reflecting on anecdotes.

"The fact that one girl exhibited preferences counter to his assumptions does not mean that those assumption are incorrect." <-- is exactly how you do not do customer development. You have stopped listening to the user.

Assuming the first user you talk to is representative of all users is exactly how you do not do customer development.

You're focusing on having things being driven by data. That is commendable. However, that only tells you a part of the story.

There's a big blind spot of people who depend on analyzing things like this. And that is, they stop listening to other people. It is usually because such people are consumed with being right, or even trying to prove themselves right. The skeptical stance gets distorted into requiring other people to challenge your assumptions. Sometimes, it is a covert (as in Jungian shadow covert) way of feeling good about being contemptuous of other people.

To really listen to other people, you give up the notion that it is all about you. In other words, it's better to assume that you don't know what you are are talking about. You don't have any preconceived notions blocking you from hearing someone out. You are not "listening" in the sense that you are waiting to for the other person to stop talking so you can tell them how they are wrong. You might even learn something.

This is exactly what customer development is about: listening to other people.

In any case, I doubt this will persuade you. That's the cool thing about this. Some people don't want to consider this, so it becomes an unfair advantage for the folks who do :-)

Just like I get an intuitive sense that this article is on-the-money, I get an intuitive sense that your comment is wrong. Intelligent, investigatory conversations with individual subjects can be extremely insightful, and speak to much larger trends.

Plus, I think you're discounting the power and spread of trends in youth culture. School is the pre-eminent breeding ground for fads.

I can assure you, these trends are not reflected at my school.

Why is her assertion of trends more valuable than mine or anyone else's? Why does her school better exemplify our cohort than mine or anyone else's?

One conversation does not constitute a definitive explanation for the social media use of a generation. Use changes based on location, income, race and gender balance, ect. in schools.

This is a complex topic. One anecdote can't offer any real insight.

> One anecdote can't offer any real insight.

First of all, it can if it leads you to further investigation.

Second, perhaps instead of only offering unhelpful criticism why don't you share what you see so we may all gain from a larger sample size?

I'm sorry, I didn't notice the part of your comment where you mentioned being a high schooler too - didn't mean to deny your contrasting experience. As the other commenter suggested, why don't you share your own take?

Keek might make a reasonable example of something do ewhere between facetime and instagram. It's a lot like instagram, but the medium is <36s long videos.

Just bringing it up as food for thought. No real point here.

Sure there are a lot of FaceTime like apps. But the problem is none of them have done a phenomenal job marketing to their demographic to really take market share.

There are also a great deal of drawbacks to FaceTime which make it expensive. It costs cell data? That's expensive! It takes a lot of bandwidth? Also expensive.

The point is that there are so many rough edges around the product that it makes it a pain in the ass to use. Slow choppy video is also a problem.

Choppy video and cell data aren't rough edges on FaceTime. It just takes a lot of bandwidth to transmit and receive video.

Not really tech trends, but rather, product trends. Still interesting.

I think the biggest takeaway is: just because your parents are clueless about the generation gap doesn't mean that you are not either. Don't bring in your assumptions.

(And following that: tech is now iterating fast enough that a "generation gap" can now be seen among siblings, not just parent-children).

This is one if the most interesting articles I've read on HN in a looonnng time. More tech companies should be thinking about this.

I wouldn't be too much bothered by what tenth grade kids like, because they don't have any damn money.

Wow. You must be lost - Hackernews is, as far as I am aware, a site for intelligent, open-minded people who recognise that valuable information may be found in many inconspicuous, non-intuitive locations. People intelligent enough to realise that kids are historically early-adopters and re-shapers of technology, pioneering uses and social integrations which, while dismissed as trivial by ignorant, hidebound adults, often end up exploding into mainstream popularity and defining the future of technology.

The article describes how these kids are all using free services, and that they won't use the ones that costs money. So I'd say that if you have any business model besides "Ads, ads, glorious ads on our user-generated content!", I think teenagers are probably going to pass by your service, however good it may be.

> Ads, ads, glorious ads

Is there something wrong with that? Total US advertising expenditures for 2011 were $144 billion[0]. UGC is of course quite difficult to monetize, but it's not impossible.

[0] http://kantarmediana.com/intelligence/press/us-advertising-e...

That sounds like a very narrow-minded interpretation to me.

If kids really don't have any spending power, we wouldn't have Fruit Loops, Spongebob Squarepants, Barbie, Disney movies, or Harry Potter.

Children drive an enormous amount of consumer spending. Their usage patterns matter.

If anything, extracting money from an adult may be easier indirectly by their children than directly.

That last point about FaceTime sounds like an opportunity for Sean Parker's Airtime.

> “entrepreneur friends”

Instead of /nerds/ or some such is quite a nice touch.

> real time social web all the major buzz words in one phrase!

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