Friday, December 11, 2015

Millennial thought - part 1

Some thoughts regarding millennials…

New World Order

Here not too long ago, I had a conversation with a friend where we discussed an interesting phenomenon. To most, this is not a pressing issue and to be fair, it might be remedied in a way that I have yet to think of, but I found this to be fascinating enough that I chose to write it down. The main subjects here are millennials and the main issue (or point of discussion) is the order of data, specifically looking at how the younger generation(s) are processing data, the order(s) used and the integration by Millennials into the workforce with Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.

Millennials are, by definition, those born between 1982 and 2004, roughly. There is speculation as to the exact years but these are the most commonly held. Millennials were so named because they began to associate their lives with the coming millennial year (2000) and the first members of the generation would have graduated high school in 2000.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with technology in the home at all times and as a result, they are typically always attached to some form of device. Because of the use of electronics and more importantly, the internet, Millennials have reshaped how we as a society search for, order and keep data. In prior generations, different forms of data collection and storage have been used, such as encyclopedias, phone books and dictionaries. All of these items could easily be found in the home of a Baby Boomer or even a member of Generation X for a while. However, encyclopedias and dictionaries are mainly only found in libraries and phone books are nearly obsolete. The reason this is important is in how we access data and how we use the means of that storage. For instance, phone books are full of valuable information regarding individuals, businesses and government entities, as well as scores of general information about the community. Nearly all of that data can now be found on search engines on the internet, such as Google.

Here is the issue, however. The information on Google is listed based on your search criteria, which is based on relevance. Another way to say it is, a search is made based on your input, and the output is formulated based on the closest match, or matches, to your input. There is no alphabetical order, no numerical order, no empirical order, nothing. This tends to throw most Baby Boomers off, at first, but eventually, through trial and error, most people learn to use search engines in the way they were designed. The struggle for Boomers is in the lack of alphabetical, or even numerical order, within the search engines. Once someone has clicked on a website, the site is most likely designed with some sort of order. Rarely do you find websites that are designed in a random way, simply due to the fact that our current society depends on the intrinsic nature of the aforementioned order. In my opinion, that society is changing.

Looking back to the days of phone books, we find distinct order throughout. Everything is in alphabetic and numeric order. Given that the search engine was a human being looking up information from within, and not a computer using an algorithm, placing the data in an order, as such, not only spoke to the earliest of intrinsic methods, but allowed for the easiest of data collection/data display. All because the data was being provided by humans, for humans, to look up and use. The history of data collection and organization of data speaks to this order and while it might seem impossible to change the nature of such an order, Millennials are not only moving into the workforce daily, but are rewriting the ways we collect, manage, store, share and express data. 

If you need an example of how this is changing, a bit of proof perhaps, grab your smart phone and observe your contacts. In what order are they placed? If you own an Android (Google based) phone, the majority of users have their contacts organized by first name. This means that the interface behind the data collection for your contacts does not force an order, but is instead left to the user at the time of input. We, as users, have the choice as to how to list and input our contacts. This has not always been the case with mobile phone technology. Anyone who has used an older cell phone knows that the data was collected and placed in alphabetical order, based on last name first. The order was therefore forced and not left to the user input. This shift is in large part due to the influence of Millennials upon our technology and has mostly gone unnoticed. Generation X users have almost unanimously adopted this shift. Only those Boomers who tend to be more analytical in thought have fought this change, but the change has happened regardless.

Stay tuned for more thoughts on Millennials. My next exposition will be on the use of the PC and how it is drastically changing in the hands of the next generation.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Not a break

Every time I take a break from writing and then come back (because I ALWAYS do), I seem to write one of these "come back" posts, where I talk about my motivation and enthusiasm and desire to write more. Then, invariably, life happens and I'm back writing another one of these posts, about getting back to writing more and believing I can be more consistent. Seems to be a viscous cycle indeed.

What seems to be more apt is to simply catch all of you up on where life has taken me these last several months (since August). Wending my way through life like any trooper of a dad is to be expected, but this last 6 months has been pretty epic, so I shall elaborate. 

I am now an ex high school coach, following a phenomenal season by some stellar kids in which we had one of the best seasons in school history, finishing in the top 25 in the state for the 3A/2A/1A level. Finishing on such a high will be a highlight for the rest of my life, especially since I got to coach such a great group of kids. They will not be soon forgotten. The reasons for why I am not coaching any more are a little bitter sweet but I am 100% positive I am making the right decision to walk away from it (at least for a few years).

To get a solid grip on how I got to that decision, one has to go back a little further than August, back to March of 2013. At that time, I was transitioning into being the worship leader for the church we had helped plant just 6 months prior. I was moving in a new direction and taking on more responsibility. It was at that time that I chose to take up the guitar, at the suggestion of my pastor. Over the next couple of months I tinkered with his guitar and began reaching out to find someone who could give lessons. In May I began those lessons with a local guru named David who guided me through some basics and slowly I learned a thing or two, but it was tough. I struggled the rest of the year (although my wife surprised me with a guitar for Christmas, which was SO AWESOME!!!), stopped taking lessons by November and honestly was not sure I could keep it up. 

January came and with it a renewed sense of desire to figure out this instrument. By March of 2014 I was beginning to enjoy playing and that's when it got fun. The more I played the more I loved it and the more I wanted to play all the time. Everywhere I went I took my guitar and it became more of a joy and less of an obligation (that's how it felt at first). And that joy was coming out on Sundays and being noticed by my family and friends. 

Because of my joy for what I was doing, I was spending (and still do) a fair amount of time developing my position as a leader, which meant there was less time for other things that didn't fit in my schedule. And that's when we get to last August...

When the season started I was as excited as anyone else, ready for a new year with a new assistant coach and poised for some good matches. I went into the season with high hopes, having laid down some prior planning to ensure that my day job would not be sacrificed (as it had the previous year) and that my time at church would work as well. Add to that a wife and two kids, being a board member of the church (and the meetings that entails), leading a small group in our home and still trying to find time to squeak in a few moments to go for a run (hahahahahahahahahahahaha) and you begin to understand that scheduling is something I'm good at because I have forced myself to be good at it due to my chaotic lifestyle.

As an aside, I do not recommend this type of harried lifestyle to anyone. Most people think I am certifiable and in fact have suggested I get my head checked. The thing is that I happen to love it but maybe that's because I really am nuts. Tough to say.

So, with that in mind, I coasted into the fall season (not really...I crashed into the fall season and spent the next few months attempting to drive on 2.5 wheels while missing half the engine). Clearly I had finally devoured more than I could stuff into my cheeks and pieces were beginning to fall out. I held it together on the outside and by all accounts was mostly successful in duping a lot of people into believing I was able to make it all work. But inside I was a wreck and had privately shared with my wife that I could simply no longer manage this pace...something had to give (possibly a few somethings). 

Therefore, in early November, after several conversations with several key people in my life and after much prayer, I chose to walk away from coaching (something I have done for over 25 years).

As difficult as that decision was to make, another decision was looming and by the end of December I had decided to go back to school. Throughout the last 2 years, God was working on me in so many ways and today I can look back and see numerous places where there was no other explanation than God steering me towards something different; something greater. 

I will undoubtedly miss coaching when the season resumes this coming August, but I am being molded into something that I refuse to miss out on, because God didn't hesitate to say yes to me.

Wherever this road takes me over the next few years, I will still be here writing and running and singing along, enjoying every moment that God gives me.