What Modern Romance Can Teach Us About Generational Research

tech-modern-romanceI was recently inspired by Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance—a well-researched, insightful look into the rapid changes in modern social life: meeting, dating, coupling, cheating, uncoupling. His book provides many great lessons about a changing world, perhaps none more so than his concept of a “phone world” which many of us now regularly inhabit:

“Through our phone world we are connected to anyone or everyone in our lives, from our parents to a casual acquaintance whom we friend on Facebook. For younger generations, their social lives play out through social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, Tinder, and Facebook as much as through campuses, cafes, and clubs. But in recent years, as more and more adults have begun spending more and more time on their own digital devices, just about everybody with the means to buy a device and a data plan has become a hyper engaged participant in their phone world”.

The advancement of technology, including its adoption and influence, is moving fast—fast enough to reshape our thinking about how to best approach generational research. We often consider Millennials—those roughly age 18-34—as a homogenous group. Yet, there are distinct differences in technology device usage and technological perceptions between those in emerging adulthood (18-24 years old) and those in young adulthood (25-34 years old). These groups are adopting technology differently, and we need to approach them as distinct segments, particularly when conducting technology research.  Continue reading

Will content providers hold telecom carriers hostage?

Will content providers hold telecom carriers hostage?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a Point-Counterpoint article with my good friend, colleague and sparring partner, Paul Hartley, which focused on fast lanes, free lanes and net neutrality. Interestingly, this topic has become big news again—albeit with a very unexpected twist.

It came to light that Netflix has been downsampling or degrading the quality of the content it delivers to AT&T and Verizon networks (yet not to Sprint or T-Mobile), not because these carriers want Netflix to do so but rather because Netflix feels it is in its own best interest.

On the surface, this may appear counterintuitive. Why would Netflix want to deliver lower quality video to the two largest mobile carriers in the US? Their logic is interesting–Netflix believes that AT&T’s and Verizon’s business model, which allows for overage charges if customers exceed their data caps, will discourage customers from wanting to stream movies for fear that overages will kick in. T-Mobile and Sprint, for the most part, don’t assess overage charges when customers exceed their data allowance—rather they throttle down the network speed to limit how much additional data can be effectively downloaded.

There are valid arguments on both sides of whether it is better to throttle or charge for overages, and this is not what I intend to debate here (although Paul and I may take this up in a future Point-Counterpoint article). Rather, the fact that Netflix is even able to do this because it’s not bound by net neutrality rules raises a very important issue that needs to be acknowledged and addressed.

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Connected for Life: Mobile Technology and Our Health Care

Mobile Technology and Health CareI love my personal physician. She has shepherded me through challenging terrain with not only medical expertise but also candor, kindness and wisdom. I am especially impressed by her willingness to be on the cutting edge of technology, perhaps because I do not dwell on that early adopter cusp.

Over the past couple of years, I have seen more and more physicians tap into a smartphone or tablet while I’m interviewing them. All of this made me curious about physicians’ use of personal devices in their medical practices. What is really going on outside the confines of my discussions?

Last summer, we conducted a very short study* to get a gauge on this. The respondents were board-certified, practicing in cardiology, endocrinology, general or internal medicine, neurology or oncology, and they told us they use their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops in their daily interactions with patients. I was intrigued by the findings: only 1% of physicians who responded do not use a personal device in their work or practice, and 13% noted that they rarely, if ever, use such a device with patients. Seventy-two percent use a device daily with patients, and there is also significant use of multiple devices.

We have begun to answer why this is so prevalent, and we know it makes a difference. What we don’t know is how…yet. Here are six reasons mobile technology has become a common part of our health care experience:  Continue reading