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We, the generation tween

Tween

The world, as we know it, is changing. Twenty years ago, a lot of digital technologies we are used to nowadays had been pure science fiction. You can tell when you watch science fiction movies from the 80s – where in the future nobody has mobile phones or internet access. The world is changing from analogue to digital in nearly every detail of our daily life. The world has become a globalized place where traveling in far off places can be well prepared by virtually walking around in Google Earth and Google Streetview.

The young people, the ones who grow up with these new technologies, the so-called digital natives, are intuitively used to all kinds of innovations. For them, being always online is a daily prerequisite. For them, the way friendships change with Social Networks is quite normal. For them, there is no difference between the “normal” world and the digital world: The digital world is the normal world.

On the other side, many older people find it difficult to learn new technologies: Learn computers, learn Windows, learn the internet, learn e-mail, learn iPhone, learn iPad. The world has become a place where learning new technologies is as normal as cleaning your teeth. The digital world is rotating very fast. Many old people fear to be excluded from technologic development. Or have already accepted to be lost on their way.

Between these two groups is a generation of people who, on the one side, know the pure analogue world as already adult people, and, on the other side, live a life of being deeply involved in all kinds of digital technologies. They consider the digital world as an enrichment of communication, culture and lifestyle. They know how valuable mobility and internet are – because they know the world without it. They are born in the 70s or late 60s, they are now in the late thirties or early fourties. They are a generation in between. They are us – the generation tween.

We know both worlds – the digitalized world, and the analogue world. We are addicted to being always online, we live with the web, work through the web, are entertained about and around the web. We know how the world was before home computers entered. We know the feeling when we moved a tiny grey box called mouse with our hand, and a computer arrow moved magically syncronized across the screen. We know the sound of a creepy analogue modem, we learned to use 8 characters for file names in Windows, we know how to get along with 640 kByte of memory, we know the bomb symbol on a frozen Apple Macintosh Classic computer.

We know how work was before everybody had a computer with online access and an email account. We know how hard it was to store only few megabytes of image data on huge magnetic tape machines, and later on floppy discs. Now, we love it to have our complete musical collection with us on an iPod while running through Hyde Park. We walked the empty streets on sundays in the 70s when cars were not allowed to drive. Today, we drive hybrid cars with our own kids sleeping on the backseat.

We know Bruce Willis with and without hair. We celebrated with Madonna, and now we eat hard candy with her. We love vintage 80s independant bands like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The XX – because we know the 80s by heart. We loved the way how very cool the first releases of a band called Depeche Mode sounded, and wait today for Alan Wilder to re-join the band.

In the past, we recorded analogue mix tapes when we fell in love. Today, we send ZIPs of many dozens of albums to our friends. Before, we bought vinyl albums. Today, we have accepted that albums are dead. Before, we bought a brand new video recorder with two side recording called Video 2000 – and then realised we bet on the wrong horse. Now, we love to watch movies in HD with sourround sound, displaying a much sharper picture than in cinemas.

We know home computers from their beginning. We learned Basic and Pascal and programmed Pac-Man-like games on green screen computers. We know the internet by heart, we need not more than a couple of minutes to buy books, movies, washing machines or Shinkansen train tickets online. We check our E-Mails within nearly every minute. We have Facebook, MySpace, Xing or LinkedIn accounts, we are connected there to many hundreds of people, and we know how to mash up sites and content in the social web.

We know how to search for a phone booth in the middle of nowhere. We know how to be always online and to be driven by mobile apps. We used Commodore and Atari computers while Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989. We learned how to communicate in the new internet in the nineties. We were sandblasted during the New Economy, being slashed by the Dot Com Death, and then we rised with the new web 2.0 to a new digital era, to what we are now.

And we love to know what comes next.

We are the generation tween.

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