Generation Z: Another Generational Caricature

One of my favourite quotes is by Soren Kierkegaard:

“Once you label me you negate me.”

I’ve previously posted about our labelling of the Millenials (Generation Y).

Shortly after I wrote that post I read an article in the New York Times about Generation Z which made me sigh – Make Way for Generation Z.

(At least we are now at the end of the alphabet and someone will have to do something a bit more interesting than just labelling the next generation as an increment from the last one. Perhaps we’ll move to special characters, how about Generation #?)

I was going to write something about why this article made me sigh, but then I came across someone who had done a better job – Generalization Z: The Times reduces generation Z to a caricature by Josh Bernoff in without bullshit:

While generalization in writing is a sin, drawing broad conclusions about a whole generation is far worse. Alexandra Levit’s piece about Generation Z in the New York Times is a great – that is, awful – example.

The sin of generalization has three basic flavors: generalizations hedged with weasel words; unsupported broad, sweeping statements; and generalization from one or two examples. They’re all lame, and you shouldn’t believe any of them.

Josh Bernoff goes on to explain in more detail where the original article fails. It’s a master lesson to all of us who write and the reconstructed article on Google Docs is great.

(If you would like to you can submit some BS to the site for analysis – now where was that email from finance?)

Because it’s Friday: Wonderful Geometric Animated GIFs

Animated GIFs are fun, many are mediocre, but these FLRN GIF are brilliant.

The person behind FLRN GIF is apparently Florian de Looij who started his journey at the age of 12. There is a huge archive of them, but here are a few:


Via Colossal

Using an iPad at bedtime? How’s your sleep?

There is a growing body of evidence that using an electronic device like an iPad before sleep isn’t good for your sleep. The issue is with devices that use a screen that shines light at you.

A recent report published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the Unites States of America under the title Evening use of light-emitting eReaders negatively affects sleep, circadian timing, and next-morning alertness defines the significance of the problem like this:

The use of light-emitting electronic devices for reading, communication, and entertainment has greatly increased recently. We found that the use of these devices before bedtime prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep, delays the circadian clock, suppresses levels of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin, reduces the amount and delays the timing of REM sleep, and reduces alertness the following morning. Use of light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime also increases alertness at that time, which may lead users to delay bedtime at home. Overall, we found that the use of portable light-emitting devices immediately before bedtime has biological effects that may perpetuate sleep deficiency and disrupt circadian rhythms, both of which can have adverse impacts on performance, health, and safety.**

In other words, that electronic device shining light at you is seriously messing with your sleep.

The more I read about sleep the more I think that we are causing ourselves all sorts of damage by the ways we mess about with it.

Here’s some advice from the NHS on sleep hygiene:

Also reported here:

**highlight mine

“In Defence of Meetings” – Really?

“Meetings”: Just the word can be enough to send shivers down your spine. I have a lot of sympathy for Dave Barry’s view of meetings:

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be ‘meetings.’

Does anyone love meetings? Yet they are a huge part of many people’s working day.

We have all sorts of methodologies for better meetings with a dazzling diversity of advice:

  • Scrum meetings
  • Two pizza meetings
  • Standing meetings
  • Facilitated meetings
  • Lunch meetings

Yet there are so few meetings that we look back on with delight.

We call meetings for all sorts of purposes:

  • Staff meetings
  • Status meetings
  • Review meetings
  • Briefings
  • Training
  • Huddles
  • All-hands meetings

Staff Meetings

I must express a particular dislike of meetings for “touching base”.

Tom Peters says:

Prepare for a meeting/every meeting as if your professional life and legacy depended on it. It does.

He also says:

Meetings are what bosses do. GET OVER IT. Hence it is the bosses job-opportunity to make these meetings no less than paragons of excellence.

Justin Kinkel challenges our attitude to “pointless meetings” and asks us to look at meetings in a different way: “In Defence of Meetings”  on 99u.

Meetings with colleagues are part of the creative process, not a distraction from it. To get things done, we have to work with people, and to love what we do, we have to embrace that. We are all on a journey toward being better. I suck at it. So many of you are further than me, but you aren’t there yet, because there is no “there.”

Justin calls us for us to develop humility in meetings.

the route to finding peace in collaborative communication is so much harder, because it’s about personal subjugation.

“Personal subjugation” now that’s an interesting thought. How many times have you sat in a meeting and been utterly convinced that it would all go so much better if you were in charge. Would it really have been better, or would it just have been better for you? What have we gained by sitting inwardly complaining? Have we made the meeting better by our attitude? Justin goes on to say:

The only thing that you can do to guarantee better meetings and better teams is make yourself into one better participant. That requires humility in every single second, especially the ones that go the slowest.

It’s a challenging article and definitely worth a read.

Today is not that meeting heavy with only 5 hours on the phone. The challenge has been set, let’s see if I can put it into practice.

Thought Experiment: Glasses Tracker

Yesterday I was doing a job which required me to go up into a loft. Before I could get into the loft I needed to get to the cupboard where the loft hatch was, this meant opening up a number of locked doors. Once inside the cupboard I need to move a number of tables out then open the loft hatch and secure the ladder. It was only then I could go up into the loft space and get on with my work.

Having completed my work I did the same set of things in reverse: descend ladder, replace loft hatch, replace tables and lock doors.

A short while later I was sat at a desk having finished off the rest of the job. It was then that I picked up my keys and looked for my glasses. I expected the glasses to be on the desk, but they weren’t. Where were they? Then it occurred to me – “I wonder if I’ve left them in the loft”. Sure enough, after going through the process again, the loft is exactly where my eye-wear was.

Some years ago I left a set of glasses at Manchester airport on my way out on a business trip. On my return I visited the lost-property office to see if some kind person had handed them in. The friendly man behind the counter asked me the date on which I’d left my glasses he the took out a draw from a cabinet which was at least two metres by one metre.  The tray was full of hundreds of pairs of glasses and represented only a few days of misplaced eye-wear, some of which were very bizarre.  My spectacles weren’t there.

This got me thinking, in this world of shrinking electronics and the Internet of Things, why don’t we have GPS traceable glasses. There are clearly some styles of glasses with very little room for anything, but some of the designs have probably got ample space to store the required gadgetry?  Perhaps it’s enough to have them Bluetooth traceable, but GPS tracking would be better. Bluetooth might have resolved my loft problem, but I think it would have been less likely to have resolved my airport problem. Wouldn’t that be a great differentiator for the glasses manufacturers?

Some people have already thought about something similar:

  • Glasses TrackR – This seems to do a lot of what I want but it’s still a bit big. I like the 2-way ringer function to, which enables you to find your phone from your glasses. The limitation of 100 feet is going to be a common problem though.
  • LOOK – This is a Bluetooth variant that is more stylish, but it’s still an extra something attached to your glasses. Using Bluetooth gives it a 50 feet range which would be OK, but it’s still not GPS.

Both of these are currently concepts looking for funding, perhaps I should invest?

The challenge as always, is going to be power. You can pretty much guarantee that the time when you need this function will be the time when the batteries have dies. It’s also power that limits the range of the device, anyone who has GPS enabled on their phone knows what a power drain it can be.

So we’ve still got a way to go before this can become a reality, but it’s tantalizingly close.

Concept video for the LOOK: