Teens and trends

Liz Gannes of GigaOM moderated a panel of high school students talking about their relationship with tech. Her post on the experience is interesting.

It’s apparent that their relationship with technology is fundamentally different from most  of the preceding generations.

“I would be lost, helpless, and alone without the Internet. I don’t know how you people survived without it!”     (Cell phones too!)

The point is that being connected is part of their identity and if you read dahah boyd how they experiment with identity. The other key take away is that social network sites – like FaceBook have built strong relationships and network effects and switching users to another platform will be difficult. And if you think that you can not only switch them but load the site with ads – read Jonathan’s comment comparing MySpace & FaceBook – (3d in the posts comment section)  

While I’ve long believed that hosting social networking is critical for media sites, I’m now convinced that it’s too late – the bus has left and media wasn’t on it.

More promising now is to build relationships with the social network sites to extend the reach and types on interactions the partnership can offer.
While Liz’s panel showed that teens don’t think in terms of developing Mash-ups (combined services) they do comparing the actual services they can consume. This means that innovative stations have the opportunity to combine applications to redefine existing services – for competitive benefit.

In the social network arena taking advantage of FaceBook’s API seem like a natural. (BTW take a look at the applications already developed. Is Clear Channel’s social networking going to be able to keep up with this?)  Admittedly the API is currently for adding functionality to the FaceBook site but how hard can it be to work out a relationship to extent the functionality so FaceBook can associate with compatible media brands?

And it’s not just Social Network applications where media companies can create new value that add to the media experience. Increasingly it is by aggregation and analysis of data – not necessarily hosting it – that value is added. (If you have any doubt, think of Google). One thing about the digital world – almost every transaction leaves a trace that can be used to provide new and valuable services.

The point being that for teens (and many adults) a world without the Internet is unthinkable – because it is without the links and connections on which their social life depends. Increasingly those connections will come from making data from one (or more) sites available in new ways – not necessarily owning the data – or being able to plaster it with what we think of as ads. (but that’s another story)