It is great to see technology get turned into something that allows people to relate to one another in natural, fundamental, and expressive ways. Today Lithium Technologies hosted a discussion on “gamification“, a social interaction construct suggesting through some research that people are more productive and engaged when immersed within a game-like environment. While many would argue that life is a game already and trying to gamify it more is like trying to make water wetter, the important point they make is that we are instinctively more sophisticated in out ability to handle social media technologies, right to the point where we can express our real live selves online across different platforms.
Enter Gen Z. Watching two particular Gen Z members, who happen to live under my roof, fluidly and seamlessly push the social limits of how they interact with one another down the hall, their many friends across town and around the world, is truly inspiring. Like watching birds in flight, their interaction in the connected world is seamless or not at all. They each have overlapping circle of friends connected via text, social media, chat, and more importantly those connections are expressed seamlessly in their real life interactions and over good old fashioned telephone. If a technology does not support that interaction, the child-like gamification interactive environment, they simply ignore it. Oddly enough, they just reloaded Half Life coop mod this week to play with their friends down the street – these are friends that get together swimming earlier during the day.
In a previous post I commented about Gen X and Gen Y marketing, and now here we have Gen Z quickly approaching. Needless to say they are very adept at social interaction, and take the technology so much in-stride, they are able to focus on expressing themselves instead of trying to project themselves. Subtle difference but huge in terms of mindset: there are so many self-expression outlets for them, and any particular social media channel is yet just another channel. While Gen Y and X are busy trying to install social media in various aspects of their lives, trying to keep close tabs on the differences between say LinkedIn and Facebook, Gen Z’s are learning social skills beyond any of the mediums and actually taking the underlying social channels for granted simply exploiting the values of each seamlessly.
Gamification is one social media skill and an important step towards expression, which itself lies at the heart of collaboration. My Gen Z’s are already there, making due with the social media product capabilities they have today, waiting for leaders in the field like Lithium Technologies, Google and others to do more in applying technology to this amazing product-enabling area. And what an impact social channels are making:
If product folks get a high out of seeing this kind of thing evolve before our very eyes – consider me stoned and lucky to have first-row seats.