The most comprehensive exploration of the newest generation on the block appears in “Generation Einstein: smart, social and super fast”, by Jeroen Boschma and Inez Groen.
What is Generation Einstein?
They came before generation Z, before generation G, and they have some characteristics of which you should take note. They are shifting the Maslow pyramid. If the silent generation was heavily shaped by WW2, the baby boom generation was shaped by the social revolution of the ’60s, and generation X was shaped by the economic crisis in the ’80s, generation Einstein is growing up in and being shaped by the 24/7 commercialised information society.
Socially minded, co-operative, bright, and involved
Generation Einstein is socially minded, co-operative, bright, and involved. Young people growing up in the internet age have access to information anywhere, anytime, anyplace. The old knowledge monopolies (book, newspapers, government, businesses, teachers, church) are no longer authorities on knowledge, they are just one of the sources.
- They process information differently.
- They do not suffer from information overload.
- They know that there is more information out there than they can learn,
- They pick out what is most relevant to them.
- Young people live in a world where they can criticise companies on weblogs,
- They tease one another via chat, join forces to make businesses or brands fail or become popular.
- They understand advertising and they understand the intentions of the marketers and communication experts.
- They are more cynical.
- They are no longer willing to be told what to do, and
- They no longer believe you unless you can provide proof.
One of the most fundamental areas of change for Generation Einstein is the learning sphere, with the shift from linear to lateral. The “new learning” reverses the roles of classical supply-oriented education. Learning is always subjective, not objective. Depending on the knowledge someone already has, the new knowledge is stored or linked to the existing knowledge. It doesn’t matter how much material is taught. What matters is how much is actually learnt. Knowledge must be imparted in the environment and context where it will ultimately be needed. Previous generations learned linearly. Generation Einstein has access to all possible forms of information and an enormous number of channels, which teaches them to deal with discontinuous information. They choose their own authorities and they learn in networks: via friends, acquaintances, wherever the knowledge is.
Generation Einstein learns in images and icons and can channel-hop meaningfully. They understand how films are put together and see exactly which parts are important. They do not need to see the whole picture in order to “get” an image. Generation Einstein can cope with more and learns propositional thinking (thinking about what could be).
Generation Einstein is fixated on authenticity:
- in others
- in themselves
- in brands
A teacher standing in front of the class must be able to teach well and be good at the subject. A trendy, funny teacher who does not understand the subject being taught, will not command any respect from young people.
- Respect is high on the Maslow pyramid
- A company that tries to be trendy, but isn’t, loses immediate respect.
- Young people have a collective mindset.
- They attach a high value to the social context in which they live. This social context consists of three different groups:
- The family that the young person belongs to,
- his/her friends, and
- the wider network of acquaintances and peers.