The Weekly Round-Up: 30.04.10

Millennials vs the old folk
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor

Millennials vs the old folk

Young people. You've probably seen them around the place, with their smooth, unlined faces and their irritating air of optimism. Bah. Not to mention their asymmetrical haircuts and outfits that suggest they get dressed by jumping into an industrial tumble dryer filled with jumble sale leftovers. Bah again.

Not that the Round-Up is jealous of their youth, or bitter about its own increasingly creaking frame, of course, but what the Round-Up finds unnerving are claims that the kids are now better acquainted with technology than their elders.

Back in the day, you had to spend 20 years as an apprentice, carefully carving out the holes in punch cards before you were even allowed to make eye contact with a computer, let alone touch any of the dials.

Yet now, young people are turning up to the office with more processing power shoved insolently into the back pocket of their £200 low-slung jeans than existed in the first five decades of computing put together.

And this means when they join the workforce and are presented with a wheezing beige PC and a work mobile phone that doesn't even let them watch Dr Who on iPlayer - well, let's just say they're less than impressed.

Indeed, a story on silicon.com this week warns that recent graduates won't just be dissatisfied with under-par corporate IT but will "actively subvert it by bypassing corporate policy and installing and using external devices and applications that they prefer". The ungrateful tearaways.

Fortunately - all is not lost. Yes, age and experience may still matter.

While these Millennial types may smugly tout their iPhones, they may well have no idea about how they work. According to a Cambridge academic also quoted by silicon.com this week, the rise of devices such as the iPhone and the advent of ever more closed IT systems could be bad news for the future of computer science.

Gadgets are now so complicated that the experimentation possible in the early days of home computing is now all but impossible, making it hard for young people to gain a hands-on understanding of technology.

This means that while the kids might have all the best gadgets, as far as they're concerned, they could be powered by pixie dust and magic beans.

Oldies against the kids, round two: just when you'd got your head around LOL, LMAO and ROFL, here comes some more netspeak to leave you baffled again.

Teenagers have developed a 'secret' language to stop adults finding out what they are talking about on social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo, according to researchers.

It seems those sneaky kids and their droogs are using code to stop parents and employers judging them for partying and drinking. So, instead of writing they are drunk, teens post 'Getting MWI' - or mad with it. Being in a relationship is known as 'taken' or 'Ownageeee'. People becomes 'ppl', cool becomes 'kwl' and like becomes 'lyk'.

Of course, at least you can try to make sure this sort of chatter doesn't happen in the office by putting a social media policy in place.

Having said that, the Round-Up would be interested to see how you manage to stop youngsters using their own code, though: "Comments may only be written in language understandable by over-40s, and no references should be made to any popular culture more recent than Inspector Morse."

Indeed, before any of you start tutting about the kids of today, maybe it's the proximity to technology and not just youth that is causing all this new slang to appear out of nowhere. The Round-Up can think of at least one other group which uses a secret language to keep the grown-ups in the dark about what is really going on: techies.

Who else would say in a memo to the boss 'the integration provided unexpected functionality' when they actually mean: 'I plugged in a new server and it broke the website'.

Or 'Due to bandwidth consumption issues and an inability to RTFM the upgrade was sub-optimal' when they really mean 'Dave spent the entire day laughing at funny cat videos on YouTube so didn't read the manual and ended up loading the wrong software.'

Or, as heard in offices up and down the land: 'It's not a bug, it's a feature'.

If you've got any other examples of the boss-befuddling use of tech jargon please feel free to send them in the Round-Up's direction.

And finally this week, it could soon be time to bid farewell to another piece of computing history: according to the BBC, Sony has announced it is to stop producing 3.5-inch floppy disks.

Some of the biggest USB memory sticks now have the capacity of 90,000 of the 1.44 megabyte floppies, so it's not surprising that fewer companies are making them.

Of course, one of the main characteristics of the floppy disk is that it isn't actually floppy, which the Round-Up always thought was slightly odd, at least from a marketing point of view, and perhaps why they have been superseded by more macho 'hard' drives and memory 'sticks'.

In any case, to salute the floppy as it passes into retirement, the BBC also listed readers' suggestions for some alternative uses of the disks outside of the standard including using them as beer mats, sticking them together as toast racks, repurposing them as skeet shooting targets, turning them into spatulas and even (the Round-Up's favourite) using them to tile a shed. And apparently somebody even uses them to back up their till system...

Also in the news this week: Barak Obama turned the internet into a vast fundraising machine as well as using it to inspire his supporters across the US. Yet, so far, the UK's political parties haven't managed the same trick. Is it because they just aren't tech-savvy enough or because they jointly have the charisma of a breeze block? Read the story and decide for yourself.

And then go find out how Tesco will hit its green goal of being carbon neutral and what IT has got to do with it.

Editorial standards