Controversial Topics, Education, Experimentation, Social Media, Society for Scholarly Publishing, World of Tomorrow

Publishing for the Google Generation

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Immediately following Adam Bly’s keynote, Joy Moore, also from Seed Media Group, moderated the panel, “Publishing for the Google Generation.”  The speakers included Vikram Savkar (Nature), RichPirozzi (Wiley Higher Education), and Ryan Jones (Pubget).  While all of the speakers were excellent, I’m going to focus on Vikram Savkar.

Vikram acknowledged that to some degree we’re all the Google generation.  Our habits and expectations concerning information have changed and continue to change as a result of Google, YouTube, Twitter, and other applications that teach us to interact with information differently than we have in the past.

However, he specifically defined the Google Generation as people under 25 who have grown up shaped by search, crowd-sourced content (like Wikipedia), and free information.  His premise was that these people have a radically different way of viewing information.

The Google generation expects:

  • Parallel versus structured access to information (information should be one step away and not require structured navigation)
  • Punchy rather than sustained information (if content doesn’t grab them in seconds, they move on)
  • Convenience (with crowd-sourced content, like Wikipedia, information about anything is available at some depth)
  • Information to be free (they see open access as their birth right)

In my opinion, regardless of “generation,” these attributes are already virtually universal customer expectations – or they are quickly becoming universal expectations.

While this might seem like splitting a hair, it isn’t.  If there is a generation “coming” that does not represent the current client population today, we would be wise to meter the release of products and features that cater to them.  That would allow us to preserve revenue as this transition in our client base takes place.

Conversely, if this change in our customer base has already occurred, and we don’t have the products or services that meet or exceed these expectations, we’d better move a lot faster.

I’m sure that there are cognitive differences in those that have grown up as part of the Google generation.  However, I have yet to hear one attribute ascribed to them that doesn’t seem to be something taking root in the population over all.

Have you?

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About Ann Michael

Ann Michael is President of Delta Think, a publishing consultancy focused on innovation in product strategy, development, and content management. Delta Think has worked with many major commercial and non-profit scholarly publishers as they clarified their business objectives, defined new content products and business models, re-architected their content processes, introduced new tools and technologies, and developed the skills and expertise needed to be successful in an ever changing publishing environment.

Discussion

7 thoughts on “Publishing for the Google Generation

  1. Geoff Bilder and I will talk some about this later today. It’s real and now, IMHO.

    Posted by Kent Anderson | May 28, 2009, 3:24 pm
  2. The British Library is also sceptical about the existence of a “Google generation”: http://www.bl.uk/news/2008/pressrelease20080116.html

    Posted by Raf | May 29, 2009, 4:09 am
  3. Thanks Raf -

    I was just looking through the link you sent. I especially liked: “…the study calls for libraries to respond urgently to the changing needs of researchers and other users…Libraries have to accept that the future is now.”

    That’s really the core of my point. Google generation or not, this is here already. It’s not something happening in the future. We need to be experimenting, learning, and developing now – not when “they” get here!

    Posted by ann michael | May 29, 2009, 7:26 am
  4. Vikram did a fantastic job, and the four expectations he outlined should be embraced by the publishing industry with the exception of “free.” The industry can still (and needs to) make great strides on the first three expectations while driving revenue. In many ways that’s the hypothesis our company was built on.

    Posted by Ryan | Jun 2, 2009, 3:39 pm
  5. Ryan, I couldn’t agree more. Vikram did an excellent job (and so did you!). I think there’s a place for free too – just not everything all the time.

    Posted by ann michael | Jun 3, 2009, 8:30 am

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