Malcolm Gladwell on How to Better Understand if a Trend is Developmental or Generational


FASCINATING keynote by Malcolm Gladwell at Postback15, the mobile conference of the summer:

Developmental change is behavior that occurs as people age. For instance, “murder is a young man’s game,” with almost all murders committed by men under the age of 25. Likewise, dying in a car accident is something that just “statistically doesn’t happen” over the age of 40. In other words, people age out of developmental changes — they are not true long-term lasting shifts in behavior.

Generational change, on the other hand, is different. That’s behavior that belongs to a generation, a cohort that grows up and continues the behavior. For example, baby boomers transformed “every job in America” in the ’70s as they demanded more freedom, greater rewards, and changes in the boss-employee relationship.

Read more below including where Facebook falls on the spectrum as well as the impact of sharing technologies.

The diffusion of new technologies always takes longer than we would assume. The first telephone exchange was launched in 1878, but only took off in the 1920s. The VCR was created in the 1960s in England, but didn’t reach its tipping point until the 1980s — over and above the vociferous opposition of the TV and movie industry, which was convinced it would destroy their business.

Facebook is at the stage that the telephone was at when they thought the phone was only for business — it’s in its infancy.

The sharing economy, featuring companies like Airbnb, Uber/Lyft, even eBay, rely on trust. And they’re growing and expanding like wildfire.

And yet, if you look at recent polls of trust and trustworthiness, people’s — and especially millennials — trust is at an all-time low. Out of ten American “institutions,” including church, Congress, and the presidency, millennials only trust two: the military and science.

Comprehensive info from his talk in Venture Beat here.


Share this post on: