The young are different
I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. Fred posts some observations about the numbers he’s seeing, and people take it personally. It could hardly be clearer that he’s not ageist. This is shooting the messenger.
The world is a changing place, as usual. Technology and knowledge is better understood and packaged and available, especially to youth, as usual. Kids of 15 can do things today (including starting companies, which takes 10 minutes on the web) that older people wouldn’t have dreamed of at 15, as usual.
There’s a tendency to let two questions overlap here. One is whether young people do better at starting and running companies, etc. The other is whether young people are inherently different simply because they’re young.
I don’t think there’s enough evidence on the first question to know the answer. Personally, I doubt that young inexperienced people are better than older more experienced people on this question.
But, young people ARE different. They think differently. It’s very clear. The easiest way to see it is to ask yourself whether (at least with regards to technology) you’re more advanced (or similar word) than your own parents? Of course you are. Of course. How could you not be? Ask all your friends the same question, and they’ll probably all say the same thing. Now just extrapolate.
The “but we invented it” argument doesn’t hold water. Bicycles were invented many generations ago, and in many respects haven’t changed that much. But look at the innovations in cycling of the last 20 years! Kids are doing things on bicycles that people of my generation (I’m 43) never contemplated. Or take skateboards. The basic form hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. Arguably, my generation invented the skateboard. But when we were kids the Ollie and grinding etc. hadn’t been thought of and the kinds of tricks that regular kids in the street are doing today would have blown our minds in the 70s. We had almost exactly the same gear. Back then, the ultimate in coolness was to do a few 360′s and maybe a handstand. If a mundane object like a skateboard or a bicycle can be put to such novel use, who can doubt what the internet/web can be made to do/look like in the hands of people who push the envelope? It’s very clear that successive generations of users (aka “kids”) push the envelope.
The internet, and of course the web, are not mature technologies. Our kids are still discovering amazing new way to use bikes 120 years after the invention of the “safety” bicycle. So we probably have a fair way to go on the internet/web. The sheer numbers alone argue that most of the innovation will come from people much younger than the current generation of users, some of whom are undoubtedly yet to be born, and none of whom will have had anything to do with the invention.
In summary: are youth better at starting and running companies? Don’t know. Are they different from us? Hell yes.
It’s probably useful to keep the two questions apart.
Another thought worth considering: in some cases (see above) it may take adults to invent something and bring it to market, but kids to figure out how to really use it.