Saturday, May 7, 2011

Watch the kiddies

I just got back from Miami where I helped my son pack up his college dorm room and return home for the summer. As comfortable as I felt in a college setting, I knew with one glance in the mirror that I did not belong - but that is another story.

It started in the airport. My son plugged his laptop in to the charging station and his iPhone into his computer to charge it. He told me ATT used to let him run the internet on his computer via his phone but that was cut off. So, he let the phone charge and played a game on the computer.  Not much story there other than the connectivity of devices.

When we got on the plane, he logged into the pay internet service using a credit card (mine, of course) and this is where is started. I call it meta-tasking, a level of multitasking above the capabilities of even a computer fluent guy like me. (meta - "higher, beyond," from Gk. meta  (prep.))

He flipped back and forth among at least four sites I could recognize though my reading glasses - tumblr, liarblog, facebook, the airline's flight tracker and who knows what else. He clicked on videos to allow them to load on the slow ariplane network, flipped to read some funny stuff elswhere, clicked to have conversations with four frinds on facebook at the same time, came back to watch the loaded video, then back to pictures, then funny stuff, then more videos, then the flight status...........

I got dizzy watching him. Windows were flying - front to background, back to foreground, all displayed at the same time (sort of tiled). But I sure ingested a lot of humor and guys doing dumb stuff ending with a crotch landing on a hand rail. 

This kid types faster with one thumb on his iPhone than I type with two hands on my regular keyboard. And if I don't have my glasses, well, you know.

How does this relate to investing? There must be something there to harness all this meta-tasking. I have no idea what but unless you spend time with the kids you will have no clue how they function in the world. Thy may not have jobs just yet but they will  and they will want technology that allows them to do a dozen things at the same time. And they want internet sites that keep up.

I am happy I can write my column with Pandora radio playing on the same computer.


Amalan said...

I see no value in the multitasking area, leave alone meta tasking..I know this is what the kids do, because we have so much of entertainment at our fingertips these days, but does this let them work better and produce more? Psychologists say, and I am paraphrasing, "you must be kidding if you think all this multitasking doesn't have a cost".

I see my teenage relatives do the same - flipping between websites and phones and tweets, and playing music, and .. and .. get 23% for Math! Neither suggesting your son would be in this category nor that Math is the be all and end all of life, but the point is that we have become an entertainment driven society that pays no attention to anything for even a moderate length of time. I wonder what sort of workers these teenagers will be when they end up in an office setting.

Michael Kahn said...

I guess I was not clear. My kid did not know where on an envelope to put a stamp so I agree multi-tasking is not helping kids work. I am talking about finding things that the kids want to buy based on this behavior. Wouldn't it be nice to know about such sites as,,, and even myspace before News Corp bought it? A portfolio of 10 of them is likely to spawn a winning investment in one of them.

Jim said...

The best of everything on mom and dad's tab?... lucky kid. Very different world from the one our sons know.

Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.