The Future of Communication

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The head of IT at Amherst College compiled the technology use habits of his incoming freshmen (class of 2012).  Here it is.
Some tidbits:
There are 438 people
99% have facebook accounts
1% have landlines

The personal landline is a technology that will be obsolete relatively soon.  Why have that, when you have caller id, and even web based filtering systems like Google’s Grand Central?

  1. Year that an incoming Amherst College class first created a
    Facebook group so that they could socialize and otherwise get to know
    each other prior to arriving on campus: 2006.
  2. By the end of August 2008 the total number of members and posts at the Amherst College Class of 2012 Facebook group: 432 members and 3,225 posts.

By the end of August! (that is, before school starts).  I remember having the awkward roommate conversation with my soon-to-be-roommates, but this is incredible.  The level of social knowledge and connection that they enter with just amazes me.  This is probably not true everywhere, but it is still an incredible difference with how college students interact.  It is also amazing how facebook has become the dominant social network.   I am sure MySpace still has plenty of subscribers, but facebook will win in a few years.  I am already bugging all of my non-facebook real life friends to join.  Ultimately, the strength is that it does facilitate face to face communication.  The next time I see one of the friends that I occasionally facebook, it will be a much richer and more intimate social interaction.  This is what I imagine happens at Amherst.  By the time you arrive on campus, you already know who is from your hometown, which classes are the hard ones for freshmen, which dorm is freezing in winter, etc.

Another one:
Of the 438, only 14 brought desktops.

The desktop computer is now a corporate, business machine.  I think this is probably true in a lot of places, laptops are how students (and 18 year olds) deal with computers.  What comes with this is an expectation that any bit of information is readily available at any time.  I’ve had students whip out theirs in the middle of class to answer a question raised (although in some cases, their answer is actually not really on the mark). 

Anyways, the future is an interesting place.

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About Cedar Riener

College psychology professor, husband, father.
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