Home Knowledge Management for Generation Y

Knowledge Management for Generation Y

In my travels today I came across some articles about how Generation Y (people born in 1980’s
or 1990’s) use Information Technology. I’m a Generation X’er myself, so Generation Y has
always been something of a curiosity to me — as other generations always are, no matter
which part of the timeline you come from.

The first article that caught my eye was from an Australian IT magazine and it was about how Generation Y are much more prone to forming communities than previous generations.
Here’s an excerpt:

“Social researcher Hugh Mackay said yesterday that younger generations
were herding together like never before, using new technologies such as SMS and email
chatrooms to foster tight social bonds.

Having grown up knowing only “instability, uncertainty and
unpredictability”, Generation Y had instinctively drawn together to cope, Mr Mackay said.
[…] “They are the most intensely tribal, herd-based generation of young Australians
I’ve ever known.”

The words “tribal” and “herd-based” are words you wouldn’t normally use to describe a
Generation X’er. We’re mostly characterized as individualistic or selfish, lazy, and
cynical towards society.

In some respects those attitudes were a backlash against the flower-power idealism of the baby boomers, although I’m one of those who thinks environment — or context — has a lot to do with the values and attitudes that a person or group of people has.

So Generation Y are both a product of the computerized environment of the 1990’s onward and are also rebelling against the “bite me” attitude of Gen X by adopting a, well, a “hug me” attitude I suppose.

The aussie social researcher quoted above goes on to say:

“I’m not predicting a revolution but I think it’s the early sign of a genuine culture shift away from individualism to a more communitarian kind of culture.”

I’m not so sure that individualism is on the way out, because two-way web culture
promotes freedom of choice and individual creativity. But we definitely are seeing mass
market culture slowly but surely being replaced by niche markets – that is, small
communities of people based on shared topics of interest.

Nowadays we increasingly have a large collection of small communities (niches), rather than a small collection of large communities (mass market). BTW, doesn’t “communitarian” sound eerily close to “communism,” or is that me being

After reading the above article, I went searching for more and came across  this article from Chief Learning Officer magazine on how Knowledge Management should cater to Generation Y. They concluded that Generation Y will expect the following 3 things from a KM system: real-time access, personalization, andcommunity. They state:

“By the end of this decade we will have moved from a workforce that
often has to be sold on e-learning to one that demands e-learning, knowledge management
and communities of practice.”

Then I came across Dina Mehta’s latest post, about youth inUrban India. I found this very interesting, particularly regarding youth’s preference for IM (Instant Messaging for you oldies) over email. Dina talks about:

…an “always on” world which is facilitated by technology like IM, VOIP, forums, blogs and online journals (have you ever left a comment at a youth journal or blog — either at a specific post or on their guestboards, and noticed how very promptly you will get a response to your comment — not just from the author but from a whole host of readers ?), simple SMS to enhanced functions offered by new generation mobile phones.

How this is impacting and changing the way youth thinks, communicates, and takes decisions. And the implications this might have for the future as they enter the workplace, bringing in their new “culture-of-use” and for marketers seeking to address this segment.

As I read this it occurred to me how the field of Knowledge Management is undergoing a
seachange right now. Knowledge Management has been a failure for Generation X from the
90’s up till now and frankly most KM consultants haven’t got a clue about the changes
coming in Generation Y. The very changes that Dina summaries so well.

People in the blog world such as Dina know what’s up, but if you look at professional KM articles elsewhere on the Web it’s the same old same old. They continue to witter on about “leveraging” or “capturing” knowledge, how to uncover “tacit knowledge,” and “optimizing operational

Frankly that sort of mumbo-jumbo annoys the heck out of me, but unless you talk that language you don’t make any headway in the business world. If I look at this in a positive way, maybe that’s my “niche” to explore. Knowledge Management for the 21st century, two-way web style.

In other news, Mark Bernstein wrote a good post today about the recent “bad behavior” of the blogosphere (the MT pricing scandal and the weblogs.com kerfuffle). The best piece of advice in his post was this: “Slow down. Take the time to write well. Think things through.

This was a follow-up to Mark’s previous post, where he said it would be preferable for people to respond to other bloggers in their own space (weblog), rather than leave comments in another person’s weblog:

“Weblog comments incite duels. Duels are bad for society. We should all
forego comments and return to carefully blogging responses — including responses we disagree with, but excluding responses we cannot tolerate.”

It’s interesting to note that Mark’s advice seems to go against the grain of what
Generation Y does – frequent comments on other blogs, using IM to converse instantly and
in real time.

So on the one hand Mark’s advice is old-fashioned and out of touch with what ‘the kids’ do these days. But on the other hand I agree that we should learn to take deep breaths and compose thoughtful responses on our personal weblogs – instead of engaging in knife-fights on someone else’s territory.

Related to this topic, I’ve just finished an experiment where I tried to publish a short and pithy post every day. Off-the-cuff things. It didn’t work for me though, as I’m more comfortable writing long-form articles and pondering things before I post.

But then I’m also more of an ’email’ person than an ‘IM’ one. Perhaps there is a generation gap (I nearly said a ‘disconnect,’ but that’s a loaded term in the Web world). Whereas Gen Y like to send messages to their tribes in real-time, previous generations prefer to ‘compose’ their messages and ‘publish’ them when they’re good and ready. If that’s the case, is RSS Time fast enough for Gen Y’s?

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava; Pexels; Thank you!

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.