Positive time_t generation

There’s an awful lot of talk about the Google generation, the born-digital generation, Generation Xbox, the iGeneration and so on at the moment.   Usually the boundaries of these generations are vague, and just as well, since chronological age is far from perfectly correlated with just about anything in the domain of very hard science, let alone such social constructs as facility, familiarity, or fear when it comes to new technologies.

But if you had to ignore all the counterexamples and draw an arbitrary birthday boundary at some point in time, this xkcd cartoon from this morning made me wonder if the Unix epoch (midnight on Jan 1, 1970) isn’t a bad candidate.  If you were born much before then, with a birthday that comes out negative in time_t terms, you’re much less likely to take a sea of technology for granted; if you were born then or after, you’re more likely to be positive.   Hey – perhaps even quantifiably more or less likely, varying with some slightly-less-than-linear function of your time_t age … hmm … possible little project there.

When people talk about ‘born digital’, I like to think of myself as an immigrant naturalised at an early age.  One of the things I like about my time_t > 0 dividing line is that it plops me down just on the techie side too.


Author: dougclow

Academic in the Institute of Educational Technology, the Open University, UK. Interested in technology-enhanced learning and learning analytics.

2 thoughts on “Positive time_t generation”

  1. Hmm. “Not take for granted” isn’t really the opposite of “positive”, though. I take delight in some of my techie devices, and rely on some of them in order to do what I do (and my parents could both say the same). And at the same time, I think back in wonder to the speed of change (e.g. in our university flats no internet, no mobiles, not even ordinary phone lines to the rooms – just keeping in touch with friends was a non-trivial exercise).

  2. You’re right, of course – and on the other way round, there are school leavers who take it all for granted but are deeply put off by it all. When you start to get in to the definitions and precisely what you mean it gets very fluid and complex.

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