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States of the American Millennial

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States of the American Millennial

  2. 2. 4
  4. 4. 6 The supposed teen-to-early-thirtysomething generation is nothing more than a convenient idea, a series of uninteresting generalizations existing solely in the heads of media pundits and marketers. There is no shortage of self-anointed experts on the topic (including a fellow who’s titled himself ‘Mr. Millennial’), who pen speeches about Millennials’ purported affections for smart watches, mobile payments, world travel, connectivity, health and fitness, and being ‘always- on.’ Such experts are, unfortunately, missing the point. And what a pity, because the realities of this American cohort’s experiences run the gamut of scintillating to stagnating, awe-inspiring to heartbreaking.
  5. 5. 7 America is now changing too quickly for people with a twenty year age difference to possess a common history. A 33 year old Millennial remembers what it was like to first get dial-up in- ternet access; a 13 year old has never been without Facebook. One generation, many realities: A whole world of change occurring between some influential headsets.
  6. 6. 8 Millennials are actually a series of subgroups, most quickly divided by the factors of age and socioeconomic situation. To begin remedying past errors of communication, I refer to “old Millennials”and“youngMillennials”inordertotease out important differences. Additionally, income inequality runs so rampant among this generation that both The Economist and The New York Times have recently questioned why riots have not yet broken out in the streets. “Why aren’t the poor storming the barricades?” asks The Economist. The New York Times blames a lingering, vastly aggrandized notion of the individual’s importance in American society (more on that in a moment), but the tide could soon change.
  7. 7. 9 entrepreneurial members of the older Millennial subset are altogether reinventing the planet. Earlier this year, the UN speculated that world hunger could be completely eradicated by 2025; MIT’s City Farm initiative is developing 12 inch by 12 inch vertical garden bases that could feed an urban family for months. Elon Musk’s new solar battery could eventually take homes off the grid. The sharing economy is teaching us to live—and thrive—on much less. Social media networks, though still in their infancy, are teaching us to extend our circle of caring. When someone gets married, we emerge from life’s woodwork to post a quick note of congratulations. The ‘Like’ button— an older Millennial’s invention—might be a bit silly, but the sentiment behind it is not. Vertical Farming: In the future, we won’t waste so much space. ONAHOPEFULNOTE
  8. 8. 10 We find the states of the American Millennial in between these sets of extremes—the prosperous might of Silicon Valley, the resource- barren inner cities and emptying suburbs; those of us who witnessed Steve Jobs delivering his liminal iPhone keynote speech in 2007 while gathered around laptops like campfires, and those of us who unearthed the YouTube of it years later, watching it as a historical text. We will attempt to imagine their near future without making generalizations about the few (the ‘wearable tech-loving’ rich people most often contorted by the media to represent ‘all Millennials’) at the expense of ignoring the many (the 90% of Americans who collectively only control 25% of this nation’s wealth; the 90% of Americans who do not currently see a clear place for themselves in our economic future as jobs automate or move overseas). It is here that we find the American Millennials.
  9. 9. 11
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  14. 14. 16 AMERICAN FAMILY INCOME DISTRIBUTION Source: Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). Unit of analysis is the family. The initial year is 1959 because the income variables in a decennial census or March Current Population Surey (CPS) interview refer to the preceding calendar year.
  15. 15. 17 and have never lived outside the upper-middle- class bubble, the danger increases that the people who have so much influence on the course of the nation have little direct experience with the lives of ordinary Americans, and make their judgements about what’s good for other people based on their own highly atypical lives.” AS THE NEW UPPER CLASS INCREASINGLY CONSISTS OF PEOPLE WHO WERE BORN INTO UPPER-MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILIES - Charles A. Murray, “Coming Apart” “
  16. 16. 18 In a nation facing ever-increasing financial inequality, MILLENNIALS INHERITED AN AMERICAN DREAM SO FANTASTICALLY UNREALISTIC, THEY HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO REWRITE IT. After all, who can afford a mortgage when they’re burdened with a trillion collective dollars in student debt? Who wants to have multiple kids amid record levels of underemployment and a workforce largely turning to overseas workers and robots? Who will ever retire if Social Security is slated to run dry in 2033? If, in the words of Da Vinci, art lives from constraints and dies from freedom, then it’s no wonder that a subset of older Millennials have become gloriously inventive. Given the dire circumstances (and the historic lack of substantial government intervention), the generation’s brightest business leadersarereinventing100year legacy business models—from advertising to automotives— so quickly it’s as if it’s for sport.
  17. 17. 19 PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA has called our nation’s rising income inequality “The defining challenge of our time.” If income, for most people, is not rising, then the only viable solution is to learn to live on less. Thankfully, this sentiment is the very bedrock of the older Millennial-created sharing economy. In a display of considerable vision and might, Airbnb has just launched an ad campaign for its “Belong Anywhere” tagline. The campaign opens with some of the most formidable questions that humanity has asked since the dawn of civilization: “Is man kind? Are we good?” Quickly, the viewer can see Airbnb’s answer: a resounding, absolute yes. After all, if we can share strangers’ homes, then there is no such thing as strangers anymore, right? This proposed virtue is not to be considered lightly, as Airbnb is now one of the most valuable companies in the world. Look to Airbnb’s model: they are aiding the American middle class when the government is not (more on that later). While companies their size routinely deplete the earth of resources, Airbnb uses existing resources. In a world of increasing inequality, Airbnb is increasing equality.
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  20. 20. 22 MILLENNIALS MISUNDERSTOOD. OF BEING EXPERIENCE SHARE THE Trend reports love to assume the lackadaisical tropes of young adulthood, making blanket statements like “Millennials aren’t into politics.” These reports cite stats describing low voter turnout and a general distrust in government. Edward Mendelson embodies this sentiment well in a recent interview with The Baffler’s John Summers wherein he says, of today’s youth, “People who are staring at their cell phones never rampage. They merely bump into things.”
  21. 21. 23 MILLENNIALS OF BEING EXPERIENCE SHARE THE What Mendelson misses is that even though thebodypoliticof(especiallyolder)Millennials may not look the same as that of Boomers in the 1960s, it exists. In 2012, Reddit co- founder Aaron Swartz, then 26 years old, led a national effort to prevent the passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) by generating an online petition and an accompanying Twitter protest, all without needing to leave his apartment. As part of this digital protest, millions of Twitter users changed their profile pictures to feature an anti-SOPA logo. These protesters fought against significant odds— after all, what congressperson understands anything about the internet, let alone SOPA?— but the modernist, mobile-era tactics worked: SOPA was stopped.
  22. 22. 24 More recently, New York asked the private tech sector to help them build a social media platform – – as a way to adapt government services to the behavior patterns of younger citizens, rather than expecting those citizens to change. SOMETHING MORE LIKE FACEBOOK 311
  23. 23. 25 Lastly, in June of 2015, after the Supreme Court’s monumental marriage ruling served as a rallying cry for much of the nation, social media proved a fertile ground for unexpected amounts of pro-LGBTQ self-expression, with 26MM users altering their personal profile picture so that it featured a Pride flag. This idea originated at Facebook, and it had even bigger intentions than supporting 2015 advances in human rights. As The Atlantic chronicled, “Facebook is looking at what factors contributed to a person changing his or her profile photo, but the implication of their research is much larger: At stake is our understanding of whether groups of citizens can organize online—and how that collective activity affects larger social movements.” Old, young, rich and poor Millennials all support (and consistently have supported) LGBTQ rights in far greater numbers than their elder generations, and were an elemental part of America’s recent sociopolitical transformation. Millennials’ participation was essential to the movement, even if their boldest public act was to add a rainbow filter to a Facebook profile photo; for a teen in rural Alabama, that one act might have required tremendous bravery. The success of rainbow profiles and SOPA hashtags demonstrates the sort of latent generational political potential of Millennials that academics like Edward Mendelson consistently miss; however, if a simple online act yields federal change, then it is still a protest, and it is absolutely still revolutionary.
  24. 24. 26 GOOD CALL, MARK
  25. 25. 27
  26. 26. 28 HOPE
  27. 27. 29 Yes, Millennials are protesting, though it does not look like other protesting. Yes, Millennials are paying attention to the world around them, even though their response is different; sometimes it comes not in the form of a political dispute, but in the form of a startup that offers people a better way. Millennials also remain a young generation, even in its ‘older’ cohorts. After all, who’s to underestimate a group of people that, according to The New York Times’ Clive Thompson, reads and writes more prolifically than any culture since the ancient Greeks? Millennials bring the country not only hope, but great hope. And this is certainly not the first time that America’s aspirations have drastically altered within the confines of a reality. YES MILLENNIALS PROTESTING ARE
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  30. 30. 32 1THE NEW SELF SMALL SELFis the No More Endless Aspiring to “Strike It Rich;”
  31. 31. 33 1THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT trend common to all the Millennial generational cohorts is a sharp decrease in interest in homeownership. This trend will be thesolebasisofthedeconstruction andreconstructionoftheAmerican Dream. Its importance cannot be overstated.
  32. 32. 34 wherein hard work renders economic ascension possible from any rung in society. In an era of ever-increasing income inequality, shrinking natural resources and continual job outsourcing, this dream has become especially farcical. Millennials, unlike the Xers before them, are notparticularlyinterestedinbuyinghomes, which to date has been America’s primary method of wealth accumulation. Weary of home-as-investment, many Millennials are decoupling the emotion around the word ‘home’ from the functional notion of ‘ownership.’ To most Millennials, a rented home can still be a home if it contains the people (and pets) that you love. CENTURIES AGO AMERICAWASBUILT ONTHEBACKOFA HORATIOALGER-STYLE RAGS-TO-RICHES FANTASY,
  33. 33. 35 In the recent words of The Washington Post: “The homeownership rate in the U.S. has been tumbling since the height of the housing boom. Fewer and fewer of us own our homes — because foreclosures claimed them from us, or because the housing bust taught us to be wary, or because the economy ensured that families who might have bought in the past can’t afford a home today.” This shift has occurred for a host of very powerful reasons. An American economy predicated, since 1942, on selling Americans home mortgages they can’t afford, therefore tethering them to organization life and stabilizing the GDP—went dreadfully awry in 2008. How dreadfully awry? From the end of World War II to the beginning of the housing bubble in 1997, American housing prices actually stayed quite stable. However, between 1997 and 2006, the price of the typical American home increased by 124%. A N D T H E N I T A L L C O L L A P S E D . Millennials watched parents, aunts and uncles, and other adults be ravaged by the financial crisis of 2008.
  35. 35. 37 Consider the ignominious vastness of the classic, Midwest American 1990s Toll Brothers great room: itsvaultedceilingsdesignedalmostpurposefullyto bleed heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Since this unaffordable room’s heyday, Americans’ tastes may have collectively changed for the better. It’s a bit of a stretch, but one of Steve Jobs’ greatest legacies was in teaching the world that the design of something really matters, that its ingenuity is the aggregate of choices made about its features, materials, longevity, environmental impact, and overall aesthetic appeal. Perhaps, in the wake of such teachings, it’s become too hard to go from admiring the thoughtful curves and proportions of a smartphone (or a well-done IKEA item, or a Shake Shack burger, or a Toms Shoe- -the thoughtfully-designed-ordinary-object list is too long to continue) to then facing the usual Toll Brothers chicanery. Dreams Deferred: The Bluth family home in “Arrested Development”
  36. 36. 38 1LESS SMALLER, SMARTER HOMES Natural Resources
  37. 37. 39 Another important move is the potential departure of the ideal home being a large home. According to CNN, as of 2014, “The average size of homes built last year hit 2,600 square feet, an all-time high that surpassed even the housing bubble years, when homes averaged around 2,400 square feet.” Now that many Americans have been priced out of owning such homes, the simplicity of tiny homes is beginning to hold broader appeal. Like the best trends, tiny homes will increase in popularity partially due to necessity (most Millennials will not have another option) and partially from cultural ingenuity. After all, if you have less home, you have considerably fewer expenses, which can be a great thing. “A tiny house costs anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000 to build, with the average being just $23,000. At such low prices, it’s no wonder that 68 percent of tiny house owners don’t have a mortgage. It’s been estimated that Millennials are the newest and largest group of potential homebuyers. However, more than 50 percent rent because they can’t afford the initial down payment. Tiny housing, as a result, can be an appealing alternative, particularly since many Millennials live alone or don’t have children.” As recently noted by real estate investor Marco Rubel:
  38. 38. 40 Tiny home terms are wonderfully practical Concurrently, Tesla’s home battery will only make the small home and the eco home more possible (and more affordable).
  39. 39. 41 The Verge, in an article titled “Why Tesla’s Battery For Your Home Should Terrify Utilities,” suggested what follows: “The prospect of cheap solar panels combined with powerful batteries has been a source of significant anxiety in the utility sector. Suddenly regulated monopolies are finding themselves in competition with their own customers.” An Edison Electric Institute report suggested that the transition could be as abrupt as the shift from landlines to cell phones. FORECAST STORAGE MARKET from GTM Research 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 2011 2012 2013 2013E 2015E 2016E 2017E 2018E $57 $140 $56 $42 $144 $380 $563 $1,001 Residential (Million $) Non-Residential (Million $)
  40. 40. 42 Cumulatively, the aspiration to ‘live onless’couldbethesinglegreatest thing to happen to America’s middle class since FDR’s New Deal. Ending a cycle of endless, mindless consumption could enable Americans to live lives they can afford and find meaning through nature and community.
  41. 41. 43 1 BEST- FRIENDS The new American Dream -AS-FAMILY
  42. 42. 44 Recently, trending topics on social media show an American populace intrigued by a killer new idea about home, community and meaning: instead of a McMansion, why not aspire to live in a “bestie row” of eco-houses, alongside your nearest and dearest? DOESN’T THAT SOUND LIKE A LOT MORE FUN?
  43. 43. 45 “I’m happy to see the little-house movement taking off. If anything ‘good’ came out of the recession, it was people hitting reset and realizing they don’t need so much space and stuff to be happy. I feel proud to be working with clients who have had that realization, that less is more.” The ‘Bestie Row’ architect on the viral phenomena of the article:
  44. 44. 46 This new notion of HITTING IT BIG BY KEEPING IT SMALL is about so much more than the size of one’s house. Journalists (in places like Medium Matter, The New York Times and The New Yorker) are beginning to question Americans’ ceaseless quest for grandiosity on a spiritual as well as material level, almost as if the latter made room for the former. David Brooks has become especially curious about the topic lately, with his article on life’s purpose gaining such groundswell momentum that he’s now launched a full series of articles on the topic, as well as a portion of the NYT’s website where readers can submit their own essays on the matter. A prefabricated home
  45. 45. 47
  46. 46. 48 2
  48. 48. 50 2TRUST The Sudden, Wild, Unexpected Evolution of
  49. 49. 51 As previously noted, Airbnb has become one of the most valuable companies in the world in just a handful of years. Older Millennials have warmed to the idea, getting over the ‘creepy’ part of staying in someone else’s house to now fully embrace it, and younger Millennials have never known an adult world without it.
  50. 50. 52 AIRBNBAIRBNB: NOT SOME RICH PEOPLE THING In very heartening news, Airbnb’s June 2015 study of its American user base revealed that the company has not created some rich kid’s global playground. The report, titled “The Impact of Airbnb on Middle Class Income Stagnation”, cites that the company is no less than “an economic lifeline, making it possible to pay the bills and make ends meet.” Aside from being the powerful driver of positive change for whathadbecomeanincredibly corrupthousingmarket,Airbnb has created something else that will continue to reshape the American socioeconomic system: more trust. Again, note the lack of government intervention and the reliance of Millennial startup invention. In order to share someone’s home, you first have to trust them. This idea sounds simpler and less pervasive that it really is: soon our credit scores will be 90% based on our ‘social’ scores, a very logical step in a world of sharing economies that depend on us being highly trustworthy and generally well-intended toward each other. Mistreat an Airbnb home, leave the place a mess? Maybe American Express won’t want you as a Gold cardmember. This is karma’s (slightly creepy, yet slightly inevitable) shining moment. Sharing America: Building A Bedrock of Trust
  51. 51. 53 BFROM A SCHOLAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK COMES THIS MODEL: More positively, trust actually begets the creation of more trust. It could easily be argued that the public nature of the sharing economy actually makes us better people. From a psychological standpoint, knowing that others are watching increases our desire to impress.
  52. 52. 54 2SHARING THE SAD The bright future of reality of privacy
  53. 53. 55 “Technology develops cumulatively, rather than in isolated heroic acts.” Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel
  54. 54. 56 “[In the future] there will be chips all over the high street relaying information and you will be bombarded with digital information everywhere you go. You will need a digital bubble force field — a shield that lets through what you want and blocks everything else.” Ian Pearson, futurist, 2005
  55. 55. 57 itsuseswillquicklyproliferate.Thenew social score will be used everywhere. Unfortunately there is, so far, a lack of privacy around such data (though in the future it’s not a stretch to imagine a second type of sharing economy proliferating, based off a more Bitcoin- like notion of private, encrypted, but still-validated trust). Millennials,youngandold,richandpoor, are yet to see any real repercussion from so much of their data and identity now being fully accessible. As a result, they largely don’t care about internet security when polled on the matter. ONCE THE TRUST GRID EXISTS, A screenshot from my location history in Google Maps, one of Google’s lesser-known features. Google has an archive of my every single location for the past 5+ years. This morning, you’ll see, I commuted from my home in DUMBO to the New York office of Ogilvy & Mather. With the bottom slider you can see that I left home at 8:30, got out of the subway at 9:10 and arrived at Ogilvy at 9:20. This is the kind of tracking that currently does not concern American Millennials.
  56. 56. 58 IT WILL ULTIMATELY BE THE MILLENNIALS’ RESPONSIBILITY to continue Ed Snowden’s planet- altering work in protecting human privacy, and given the generation’s collective lack of concern for the matter, privacy might be something Generation Z has to fix. Additionally, the generation’s sense of humor and current ‘who cares’ attitude toward public surveillance have had an interesting effect on the broader culture. Case in point: in a desperate grasp at relevance, the CIA emerged on Twitter in mid-2014 as if the agency was entering a bar at happy hour, greeting a bunch of pals from work. Interesting tonality choice, given the agency’s foreign and domestic roles in society; seemingly one only the ¯_(:/)_/¯ Millennial era could yield.
  57. 57. 59 Everyone’s a Comedian: The CIA makes an appeal to Millennial youth with its first tweet.
  58. 58. 60 3
  60. 60. 62 3 An overhaul of life expectations and living situations will inevitably produce an influential overhaul of the transportation system. Though the sharing economy is set to transform too many lines of business to detail here, transportation is important for 3 reasons: IT REFLECTS IT ALTERS IT AFFECTS ANOTHER RAPID TRANSFORMATION IN MILLENNIALS’ CORE VALUES OUR RELATIONSHIP TO COMMUNITY AND GOVERNMENT THE EVERYDAY. O3 O2 O1
  61. 61. 63 3CARIN AMERICA The meaning of a
  62. 62. 64 Cars have meant different things to older and younger Millennials. Older Millennials counted the days until they could get their permits and licenses as teens, and the freedom a car provided was the definitive adolescent milestone. Their first cell phone was the freedom. Who wants to fight with parents about going to visit a girl, when you could not fight with them and text her from the safety of your room instead? Less than 50% of younger Millennials have even bothered to get a license when they legally could. That percentage continues to drop every year. YOUNGER MILLENNIALS? Couldn’t care less. Freedom, Old Millennials-Style Freedom, Young Millennials-Style: The popular messaging app Kik
  63. 63. 65 Younger Millennials might really be onto something: from a safety standpoint, it’s probably a good thing that cars are becoming a commodity. Younger Millennials have largely already dismissed the idea of owning a car. Again, the pattern of this generation’s ability to completely dismiss century-old ritual and expectation is apparent. THEYARETOTALLY COOLWITHWILD AMOUNTSOF CHANGE.
  65. 65. 67 HELICOPTERS BUSES AIRPLANES LONG CAR RIDES BOATS Blade Bridj, RidePal NetJets Split Coastalyfe, GetMyBoat THOUGH EVERY TYPE OF TRANSPORT NOW HAS ITS “UBER,” CURRENTLY THERE’S A DOWNSIDE FOR MANY MILLENNIALS. These new transport methods are currently accompanied by extreme income inequality, and will be so for at least the foreseeable future. There is a ripple effect to this sort of en masse privatization that has a serious effect on broader society. As The New York Times notes, “Santa Clara County Valley TransportationAuthorityexecutives note that 20 percent of the workers who ride the private tech fleets between San Francisco and Silicon Valley would have otherwise used public transit. The dark outlook presented by the explosion of private transit systems is that an elite class of tech workers will be moved in style, while the overall quality of transit will decline.” In the long haul, there is still reason for optimism. For example, Helsinki’s goal is to go car-free. In the meantime, transport is another form of inequality that less affluent Millennials will have to contend with in order to succeed.
  66. 66. 68
  68. 68. 70 “Weshoulddoawaywiththeabsolutelyspeciousnotion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.” ― R. Buckminster Fuller, 1960
  69. 69. 71 WITH LESS HOUSE, LESS (OWNED) STUFF, LESS MORTAGE, YOU NEED LESS JOB LESS FAMILY, LESS CAR, (the birthrate is at a historic low, and continues to drop every year) Consider what that insight could mean for the Millennial era of the American economy in that one aforementioned question: What happens to the future of employment when it’s no longer an economic necessity to be employed?
  70. 70. 72 RIP, Boomer and Xer-style employment. We’ll miss your excellent office accessories.
  71. 71. 73 IS THETHE TRUTHIS America already isn’t fully employed. That’s been the economic reality for the entire Obama administration—and it’s time for our culture to start improving and reflecting the new status quo, rather than trying to ‘hope’ it into becoming something it’s not.
  72. 72. 74 A recent piece in The Atlantic titled examines the stark truth that many former American hubs of manufacturing are now ghost towns, and many of America’s most popular careers will soon be automated. The top 4 professionsintheUSalone—retail salesperson, cashier, food and beverage server, and office clerk— are professions that employ a full 15.4 million Americans, or 10% of our workforce. All of these professions (and many more) are at substantial risk of being outsourced to software in the very, very near future. “ “ And the article goes on to note: “In 1964, the nation’s most valuable company, AT&T, was worth $267 billion in today’s dollars and employed 758,611 people. Today’s telecommunications giant, Google, is worth $370 billion but has only about 55,000 employees—less than a tenth the size of AT&T’s workforce in its heyday. ...The share of prime-age Americans (25 to 54 years old) who are working has been trending down since 2000. Among men, the decline began even earlier: the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the late 1970s, and has increased as much throughout the recovery as it did during the Great Recession itself.” THE END OF WORK
  73. 73. 75 in the country’s economics that more Millennials, old and young, rich and poor, will learn to live without holding down full- time jobs. There will be numerous, obvious upsides. New cultures will emerge around ‘working without work.’ Needing more structured ways to busy themselves, communal efforts born from a sharing economy-style ethos will emerge,inwhichpeoplecanderivethesenseofpersonal satisfaction and purpose that comes from working efforts that don’t necessarily pay in money. Think back to the WPA from FDR’s New Deal, and you can start to imagine how diverse skillsets could be put to use en masse (even though likely, with the Republican Party’s current interest in small government, it will be startups that offer Millennials these services, or at least broker them through the appropriate government agencies, not the government agents directly themselves). IT IS WITH THIS CHANGE 1930s Economic Revival & The WPA: As much about art as it was about industry
  74. 74. 76 Canoe House, University of Iowa: One of the WPA’s loveliest legacies
  75. 75. 77 Working for satisfaction and not money is actually quite realistic. After all, we do ‘make’ things in our spare time: we created Wikipedia and we upload 400,000 hours of YouTube video every day. We make so much stuff online that the IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020.
  76. 76. 78 The Columbus Idea Foundry: The world’s largest makerspace is in Ohio. It helps those displaced by a changing global economy find a way to ‘do’ things again, and is credited with representing the future of communal space.
  77. 77. 79 Academics are studying the many ways to make a life without a high annual income. As one expert says in The End of Work, “A lot of people in the [under- employed] cities make post-wage arrangements, working for tenancy under the table, or trading services.” Full time corporate employment is, after all, a relatively new notion in American history, an evolution of post-agrarian industry. Perhaps as technology improves, we’ll migrate back to a more agrarian model, albeit with the aid of a thousand wonderful adventures that our grandparents could never have dreamed of. (And more on that in a minute.)
  78. 78. 80 3 WHITE COLLAR AMERICA ‘Startup’ will lose a lot of its reverie
  79. 79. 81 3 Much in the way that top universities are responding to the presence of startups by becoming more like startups (online learning, venture-funded programs, etc.) big corporate jobs will soon modernize by acting more like the startups that compete with them. For those lucky enough to remain in America’s white collar workforce in ten years, this transformation will be quite beneficial.
  80. 80. 82 Startup life, however, will start to lose its luster once venture capital funding normalizes and the market corrects; the VC industry is currently enjoying its current all-time investment high (over $52B in total last year). The fires of this enthusiasm remained fanned by IPOs like Twitter, which is some- how still a publicly traded company despite being unable to retain users, grow users, turn a profit or innovate. The primary reason that startup jobs will become less revered by highly educated, experienced, aging Millennials? The industry’s base expectation that all employees take salaries at significantly less value than they’re worth, on the (very) off- chancethatstockoptionswillvestand the company will IPO. Estimates vary, but approximately 97% of startups see no such wealth-creating exit. These talented minds are therefore currently accepting less money to make less money, and often for years of their careers—with no upside attached other than a branded hoodie and some free lunch. Such economic dalliances are unconcerning to the young only: no parent thinks lightly of taking a 60% pay cut. College/Startup Mashup: Stanford’s Venture Studio
  81. 81. 83 , Fortune 500 companies will lure talent by starting to borrow the best aspects of startup culture (project-based work, clearer upsides for successes, agile teams) as Millennials take over the C-suite roles and implement the ideas of their startup brethren. White collar careers will soon look more like a pastiche of activities, a mosaic, rather than a linear ascension. Having a side hustle will not only be standard, but encouraged, because it means your employees possess a richer myriad of skills. The company man can now have a company on the side. INSTEAD Man-children at work and play in the offices of Hooli, the thinly veiled parody of Google from the hit HBO show “Silicon Valley”
  82. 82. 84 4 GLOBAL, MALLEABLE HYBRID COMPANIES “Another shakedown on shakedown street.” - The Grateful Dead
  83. 83. 85 MESSAGES SENT PER DAY (BILLIONS) Sources: Portio Research, a16z; The Economist, 2015 “WhatsApp and other over-the-top services are projected to drain global telecommunications companies of $386 billion in revenue between 2012 and 2018 from the use of OTT mobile voice calling alone. Could most telecommunications service providers survive a decline like this in a core business?” - The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 1996 2000 2005 2010 2015 (forecasted) SMS WhatsApp
  84. 84. 86 In other words, Samsung Electronics’ competition is no longer LG and Sony, it’s any company that feels like dabbling in screens. Both Facebook and Google have successfully proven to be capable of truly unanticipated, agile crossover: Facebook is deep in mobile payments, Google is working on curing cancer, and Amazon owns small business cloud. Not bad for a digital Rolodex, a search engine, and a bookseller. The term sometimes used here is “combinatorial innovation,” an idea credited to Hal Varian, the Chief Economist at Google and a Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. Combinatorial innovation is steeped in the history of mechanization, and it predicts that businesses in various industries will rapidly and unexpectedly “combine” to form new products. This is the theory that could have predicted Facebook becoming Western Union and Google a medical research lab. IT’S NOT JUST THAT INDUSTRIES WILL BE REINVENTED, BUT THAT THEY WILL ALSO CROSS- POLLINATE. IN THE FUTURE ECONOMY,
  85. 85. 87 The implications for such innovation are daunting: it’s one thing for companies to track their top competitors, and another for every company to be a potential competitor. Whereas now most market disruption comes from startups, corporate intra-preneurs will gain prominence in the future, as they help prepare long-established companies for wild crossover. It is interesting here to note that talent nurturing and identification will be one of the primary challenges during the next wave of Millennial work: Facebook itself famously turned down hiring Whatsapp founder Brian Acton in 2009 (as did Twitter), instead opting to pay out $19B for his company just a handful of years later. (Even Millennials sometimes struggle to identify fellow talented Millennials!) Given that the global industry’s new norm will be incessant disruption, figuring out who has the special gift for ‘knowing what’s next’ will prove an exceptionally important challenge.
  86. 86. 88 Hearteningly, companies are emerging to help established, important companies hire more diversely, since diversity of experience and thought will be absolutely crucial to future innovation. Entelo has built an algorithm that helps HR departments find perfect candidates outside their “normal” (predominantly affluent, predominantly white) hunting grounds. It has been statistically proven that companies with women on their boards outperform those without. It is hopeful that Millennials, who ushered in the era of LGBTQ rights, will be more open to this critical change than the Xers and Boomers who preceded them. The $19B hiring whoopsies.
  87. 87. 89 The Entelo Team: An HR startup that helps companies hire more diversely
  89. 89. 91 4 Startup culture won’t go away— not in the slightest—but it will evolve and improve. The tools of mass production democratized by the internet all but insist on the continuation of industry disruption by small companies. However the norms around what a startup is and is not will change. THE MICRO STARTUP
  90. 90. 92 A crop of different startups will soon emerge with different goals—comfortably supporting 3-5 employees and their families and realistic, long-term growth—rather than vaulting their debt into the stratosphere on the back of phony ‘valuation’ calculations, hoping for a huge exit or an IPO. These new, smaller ventures will sometimes be funded, sure, and sometimes the funding will come from traditional VC investors, for more reasonable terms. Sometimes funding will also come from larger corporations, as a way for those corporations to retain top talent and have access to fresh IP in a style of employment the talent finds less constraining. Most white collar Millennials see less need for a 9-to-5 office culture than their older counterparts.
  91. 91. 93 will hopefully widen the entrepreneur aperture, allowing non-white, non- affluent, non-male, non-Ivy League citizens to start a startup. After all, the fortunes left to be made in Silicon Valley involve innovating for the 99%, not the 1%. Bill Gates’ vision was a computer in every home, not a computer in the richest homes. The ideas that better life for the 99% won’t occur to Silicon Valley without significant culture change. THIS LEVELING OUT OF THE ECONOMIC PLAYING FIELD Coldhubs: A brilliant startup for the 99%. In developing countries, almost half of the produced food rots in the sun; Coldhubs provides solar-powered refrigeration for an affordable fee. These are the billionaires of the future.
  92. 92. 94 4 R E T I R E M E N T R E T I R E M E N T OF
  93. 93. 95 4
  94. 94. 96 Millennials are considerably under-financed, which is why they have no choice but to start living on significantly less. As they age, additional factors will continue to bear down on their financial future: 1. 2. 3. 4. SOCIALSECURITYISUNDER-FUNDED MILLENNIALS’LIFEEXPECTANCYWILLINCREASE COLLEGEDEBTWON’TDISAPPEAR ROBOTIZATIONOFTHEWORKFORCEISEXPECTED TOCUTBLUE(ANDWHITE)COLLARJOBS
  95. 95. 97 Millennials will work through their lives, potentially changing professions, but nonetheless working. As Slate points out, “The notion of retirement is a relatively new invention. A century ago, 7 in 10 over-65s in the United Kingdom were working. Today, about 2 in 10 are. (Similar changes have happened in the United States.)” Additionally, when Otto von Bismark created the notion of a state-funded retirement pension in the 1880s, life expectancy upon hitting age 65 was a mere 18 more months. Now, it’s 23 years. NO LONGER WILL THEY RETIRE
  96. 96. 98 Luckily, the purpose of technology is to make life better and cheaper. New business models are already emerging, creating entirely new layers of work. The European-based startup La Ruche Qui Dit Oui is attempting to usurp the grocery store for a market of local sellers, each covering off the production of a different bit of produce or good. Imagine a world in which you spend two days a week harvesting tomatoes, and then trade your tomatoes for the other things you need in the market. La Ruche Qui Dit Oui doesn’t just represent an accurate depiction of how artisans functioned in past economies; it represents many hard- driving venture capitalists’ vision of the future. Union Square Ventures recently led a $9MM round of funding for the startup (and, of course, all of the accompanying proprietary technology that makes scaling and running such markets so much easier than it was in the 1600s!). Imagine a life in Millennials’ older years wherein theirprimaryfinancialobligationistocontribute their week’s harvest, or their handmade chairs and tables to the communally-operated farmer’s market. Life and career can become a continual exploration, not a beginning followed by an end.
  97. 97. 99 A La Ruche Qui Dit Oui market in Europe
  98. 98. 100 5
  101. 101. 103 5“Facebook is building an incredible moat around the future of social with Messenger and WhatsApp.” – Dan Frommer, qz
  102. 102. 104 IMAGINE A NEAR FUTURE WHERE INSTEAD OF HAVING 50 APPS ON YOUR PHONE, YOU HAVE ONE APP. That app that can easily cue up 50 different APIs in a couple of commands to keystrokes, engaging companies like Uber, Foursquare, Facebook, Airbnb, Kayak and beyond. This is how we’ll all use the mobile internet in 2-3 years. This style of communication, of course, will be brought to the world by a subset of entrepreneurial, mostly older Millennials. What makes Messenger, What’s App, Line and WeChat so special?
  103. 103. 105 5 GO EAST,YOUNG MAN, GO EAST
  104. 104. 106 “Here in Western markets, if you want to interact with a service from your phone, you either visit its mobile website or, more likely, you download the app. In China’s WeChat and other services across Asia, the services you may want to interact with are right there in your messenger. There’s no need to download an app: It’s as if you could just tap on an app in the App Store and start using it within the App Store app. This model will be at least somewhat disruptive to Google (because it could cut away from Search) and Apple (because it could cut away from the App Store).” Union Square Ventures’ Brian Libov recently wrote about the future of messages, explaining Eastern innovations like WeChat accordingly:
  105. 105. 107 One of the most promising facets of the WeChat economy is the company’s broad user base: everyone is using WeChat’s services, shopping interfaces, payment tools, and entertainment vehicles—not just privileged few, the rich people, like in America. Here, apps are largely a trend of the affluent. 60% of people making under $40,000/year don’t download apps onto their smartphones. Over 90% of those lower income users do use texting, though, which is why introducing new services to the familiar medium of texting will drastically increase penetration among less affluent older and younger Millennials.
  106. 106. 108 SERVICES LIKE FACEBOOK MESSENGER WILL REPLACE EVERY COMPANY’S 1-800 NUMBERS. In the very, very near future, Image: Brian Libov All of this chat functionality will yield far greater fluidity between strangers looking to communicate with each other from an enterprise standpoint, as well. The ‘walls’ of companies will become porous. The monolith, relatively immutable notion of ‘brand’ becomes somewhat disempowered in this environment, where more human-to- human interaction is added into the mix.
  107. 107. 109 HotelTonight (which sells last minute hotel rooms at heavily discounted rates) has just releasedanewconciergefeaturecalledAces. HotelTonight staffers replace, via text, the concierge staffers presumably sitting in the lobby downstairs. (This is perfect example of many Millennials preferring one mode of communication, text—and preferring it for years—with traditional businesses refusing to change their practices.) In HotelTonight’s words, the new feature is “perfect for the always-on-the-go business traveler, those checking out a city they’ve never visited before, or anyone who just wants to plan less, live more, and let someone else handle the details.” CASEINPOINT HotelTonight’s Ace app. Note the casual language and the sincerity of the intrapersonal interaction.
  108. 108. 110 Investor Chris Messina is cultivating a list of these “conversational commerce” startups on Product Hunt, all almost entirely founded by affluent Millennials. The list is already 100 companies long. Ideas include things like “Text a Stanford Nerd,” wherein anyone can asked a question or seek longer term assistance from an appropriate ‘nerd’ at Stanford University. That could be helpful not just for students, but anyadult.Imaginehowhelpfulsuchcompanies will be to the world once they are able to expand past the early-adopting 1%?
  109. 109. 111 5 ¡NO MA NCH ES!
  110. 110. 112 Another compelling facet of WeChat is that it is semantically sophisticated, capable of deciphering slang in a dozen different languages (including Latin!). Soon there will be far less significant barriers between any two people in the world communicating with each other. Not internet access, not language, not platform. Line, Japan’s WeChat, has inspired the creation of streams of incredibly detailed “sticker sets,” which convey nuanced emotions and situations via picture. In America, amid Millennials old and young, Emoji and Bitmoji communicate not only concepts (hamburger!) but entire worlds of emotion (‘hamburger’ can equal ennui, generalist American indulgence culture, plainness/expectedness, etc etc). Like Line stickers, Bitmoji can be especially expressive, linking popular phrases (“I can’t even!”) to a corresponding image, allowing someone who might not get the words to learn them by the picture. Bitmojis effectively can translate a slang phrase while teaching it. This ability will prove especially helpful with languages like Spanish, where much of the popular slang uses words in ways that aren’t even close to their official meaning. For example: A Line sticker from Japan.
  111. 111. 113 5 NEVER UNDERESTIMATE GIF the
  112. 112. 114 MOST INTERESTING OF ALL IS THE GIF, or the short, animated clip most usually plucked from a popular film or TV show. GIFs are extra interesting because they can have two meanings: the literal happening in the clip (Tina Fey as Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, sarcastically rolling her eyes at Jack Donaghy, her male boss), which pretty much anyone can understand and be amused by, regardless of their familiarity with the show; and, a secondary, more furtive- yet-fun meaning to those fully in on the context of the clip, or those who are familiar enough with the referenced television show to get additional ins and outs of the joke.
  113. 113. 115 GIFscanalsoassumenewmeaningsovertime,asblog commentators, writers, and regular friends on social media re-appropriate them for specific instances, thus adding to a video or image’s set of implied references. For example, a GIF or an image of a cross-eyed cat can start out as a substitute for saying “I’m out of it.” Later, a popular internet personality can look at the GIF and assume a more nuanced explanation of its circumstance: “When you’re drunk af [as fuck] but you need to act all serious for a sec.” ‘Tired, out of it’ kitten is now ‘drunk-but-feigning-interest’ kitten. When the image is referenced in a blog comment after, say, a post on a presidential candidate, it assumes both meanings. Those in on the more furtive one can have a good snicker.
  114. 114. 116 Note the purposefully maligned grammar: this style of lingual play, which probably first appeared in “I Can Has Cheezburger?” in the early 2000s, was initially relegated to translating and anthropomorphizing the supposed internal monologues of pets. After all, animals can’t speak English, so if a cat somehow found its way to the keyboard and typed up its thoughts, its grammar should come off slightly mauled.
  115. 115. 117 5ZERODEGREES SEPARATION of
  116. 116. 118 5 As messaging, new language forms, and global “inside jokes” allow for a true communal conversation, some startups are having fun with the notion that there is no longer such thing as STRANGERS
  117. 117. 119 is a startup that’s seen phenomenal popularity come from a very simple idea—set an alarm, and a random stranger will call to wake you up. Wakie calls itself a “social alarm clock.” People have been reveling in this delight (as well as the positive psychological effects—you can scream at an automated alarm, but when a person calls up, they elicit a very different reaction!). Wakie’s fans swear by the the moment of pure serendipity as a fresh way to start their day. Wakie simply, brilliantly cuts to the most important of human truths: that we’re all in this together, and we need every reminder of our unity that we can get. The less automated, more human, the better. WAKIE
  118. 118. 120 5 ACTUAL HUMAN EDITORS Recode, June 2015 There’s a Shiny New Trend in Social Media: “ “
  119. 119. 121 5 The next round of technological innovation will get more predictive—Google’s Now can already help you avoid missing your flight due to a forming traffic jam on I-78—but it will also get more emotive, and human, too.
  120. 120. 122 Apple’s latest maneuvers around reinventing music were all about hiring the humans behind Beats. Less API, more IQ. Apple isn’t unique. “In the past months, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all announced new curation features that rely on humans to sift through and select the best content from their massive collections of user posts.” YouTube has announced a partnership with Storyful to build a new kind of newswire, one that lets eyewitnesses immediately contribute video and commentary to breaking stories. In a matter of minutes or even seconds, Storyful’s editors verify the veracity of the source, and the breaking story is told with previously unimaginable context. This is the new, true future of crowdsourced journalism. Under the aegis of human editors, young Millennials will partner with news organizations to contribute stories, interviews, videos, and other components of journalism more earnestly. Imagine, in a year or two, receiving some sort of title and official badge from The New York Times, for getting a gripping first-responder video of a forming protest? Imagine going out of your way to interview several of the organizers, and the Times not only verifying but using your piece? Imagine how great that would look to a potential employer? This is the future of crowd publishing. Older Millennials and their rambling Tumblrs will quickly become a digital vestige. A NEW KIND OF NEWSWIRE
  121. 121. 123 5MILLENNIALS & THE NEWS QUIT YOUR JOB AND MAKE $10K A DAY AFTER YOU READ THIS! A subset of older white-collar Millennials will potentially be remembered for their attempt to destroy the news industry. By either starting or supporting (by means of their eyeballs) a toxic marshland of purposefully obfuscated ‘journalismism’ sites like Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, Fusion, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily, and dozens more, Millennials have often stopped caring where the hell their information comes from, and whether or not it’s right.
  122. 122. 124 is perhaps the best (as in truly the worst) example of this type of sensationalist business model in action; the company has tossed journalism and advertisements into a blender and hit the ‘Pulverize’ button. “[Marissa] Mayer is now banking on an overtly corrupt model of digital journalism to help stanch Yahoo’s steady hemorrhage of ad revenue. What Mayer is pleased to call the site’s stable of ‘digital magazines’ is, in reality, the barest of fig leaves for an orgy of sponsored content—i.e., copy commissioned, inspected, and (increasingly) edited by advertisers, and misleadingly packaged as reliable, independent journalism in order to win eyeballs and reader trust.” Y A H O O Its failings are perhaps best summarized by noted writer and former Yahoo editor Chris Lehmann:
  123. 123. 125 Like the response to the ‘pink meat’ of McDonald’s by the food industry, a Shake Shack will eventually emerge to triumphantly to assume a more well-intended, noble place in the journalism world. The purposeful obfuscation of advertisements will end. It just might take some subset of Generation Z to do it. Accurate diagram of an era that we hopefully leave behind (The Baffler)
  125. 125. 127 5 “Americans wouldn’t care if 90% of brands disappeared tomorrow.” - Havas Media to The Guardian -
  126. 126. 128 IT’S REALLY HARD TO GET PEOPLE TO CARE ABOUT BIG COMPANIES. IT’S MUCH EASIER TO GET PEOPLE TO CARE ABOUT PEOPLE. One important trend from the Millennial era (and a definite carryover from Steve Jobs) is the CEO public address. Google doesn’t have to buy 30 second spots during the World Cup to land themselves on the front page of every influential paper and blog; instead, like the world’s other innovative, powerful startups and companies, they routinely hold public conferences to explain three very important things: O3 O2 O1 WHAT THEY’RE MAKING WHY THEY’RE MAKING IT HOW IT WILL MAKE BOTH INDIVIDUALS’ (AND THE WORLD’S) EXISTENCES BETTER
  127. 127. 129 ElonMuskannouncingTESLAEnergy Xiaomi, Apple, Google, Facebook, Uber, Spotify, Alibaba, Tesla, and Starbucks: these are just a few of the companies whose executives frequently take to the stage to explain their new plans in plain English. As a result, traditional marketing products and practices can look positively Byzantine to Millennials. If it’s great, if it’s noble, why not just step outside, take some questions, show some pictures and explain it? Apple takes this process so seriously they’ve just built themselves a new amphitheatre.
  128. 128. 130
  131. 131. 133 6“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.” - Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  132. 132. 134 SILICON VALLEYis obsessed with making your shopping experience perfect.The minute each transaction is complete, startups love to ask the user, “Did you love it?” Here’s the de facto Uber-style 1-5 star rating system that many mobile commerce companies prefer: See how easy it is to give love, from 1-5? How easy it is to complain? Offer a suggestion? Ask for more information? Comparatively, can corporate America say that it cares about how each and every one of its transactions is received?
  133. 133. 135 of Millennials in America now have smartphones. Regardless of how innovative a category is, to a smartphone- bearing Millennial, its competition is the latest set of shopping standards and experiences created by Silicon Valley. Here are three trends that will shape commerce, as more thoughtful living (tiny homes, communal cars, rented goods, kaleidoscope careers, sharing and community) begets more thoughtful buying. 90%
  134. 134. 136 PRODUCT O1 DISTRIBUTION O2 CRITICAL O3 RECEPTION Fixthe Fixthe Fixthe
  135. 135. 137 PRODUCT EYEWEAR INDUSTRY MATTRESS INDUSTRY CAR INDUSTRY MOVIE INDUSTRY OIL INDUSTRY LIQUOR INDUSTRY O1 Fixthe If something about your business model is unethical (overly harmful to the world, or harmful to consumers by way of marked-up legacy pricing schemes), then beware, because Silicon Valley wants you gone. No amount of feel-good commercials, branding or purposefully obfuscated content plays can save you. Glasses were marked up 500% Warby Parker Forced individual ownership even though cars spend 90% of their lives idle Uber, Zipcar Didn’t ever have sales Caskers, Lot18 The environment had to die for fuel Tesla battery Marked them up 200 - 300% Casper Placed pointless constraints around content availability Netflix
  136. 136. 138 Silicon Valley has trained its entrepreneurs to hunt these industries down, make replacement products that are earnest and efficient, and then put the dinosaurs out of business. Here’s venture capitalist Paul Graham on hunting down the most lucrative of the Fortune 500 dinosaurs: “Find a cure for the disease of which things like the RIAA is a symptom. Something is broken when Sony and Universal sue children [over pirated music]. Actually, at least two things are broken: the software that file sharers use, and the record labels’ business model. When the dust settles in 20 years, what will this world look like? What components of it could you start building now?” O1
  137. 137. 139 Millennials are waiting for Silicon Valley to systematically reinvent every category of business; in fact, they’ve come to expect nothing less. In mere months, old and young Millennials have subverted decades and centuries-old businesses.
  138. 138. 140 DISTRIBUTIONO2 Fixthe The coming era of ‘Brand Tribes’: Affluent and less affluent Millennials alike won’t have to shop in the future if they don’t want to because the machines will do it for them. Machines can even take an individual’s ethics into account while they do it. TODAY Amazon Dash TOMORROW Jet.com Just push a button you stick on your washing machine and you’ve instantly ordered more Tide. The purchase experience has been reduced to its simplest act. An advertiser’s ability to influence it is all but gone. An Amazon competitor that will make bulk discount deals on one specific product in a category. Imagine an Amazon that only sells one kind of dishwashing soap… But that dishwashing soap is half the price of competitive soaps anywhere else.
  139. 139. 141 And now, the Brand Tribe explains itself: Imagine group-buying deals based on preferences. Never think about what brand of soap, garbage bag or spongemostrepresentsyou. Jetwillnotonlyfigure it out, but broker a discount based on the ‘tribe’ you’re in. The cheap-o tribe? The environmental tribe? The luxury tribe? Some blending of the aforementioned? You’ll be a member. Household purchases will be entirely automated through sensors and then filtered through your own preset preferences. Uninteresting shopping experiences are relegated to the background of life.
  140. 140. 142 CRITICAL RECEPTIONO3 Fixthe The way people find products they’ll like is about to be completely overhauled. As one harbinger of the future, look to The Wirecutter, which combines the objectivity of Consumer Reports’ reviews with the potency of big data. The Wirecutter examined 15,000 data points to make near-perfect recommendations on things like ‘The best TV under $500’ and ‘The best TV over $500.’ Early adopter Millennials already swear by the service. Its best-reviewed products sell out almost immediately on Best Buy and Amazon’s websites. The Coming Era of the ‘Perfect Product Review’ There are other related players to watch:
  141. 141. 143 PRODUCT HUNT A new startup that allows people to vote up or down on the hottest new products, creating a crowdsourced ‘what’s hot’ list of things you can shop for. Its vetting system can make or break a startup overnight. Product Hunt reduces the Gursky- esque sea of goods that Americans face and produces one simple, short hotlist of what’s good. This is what’s to come. Product Hunt lists the best startups of the day
  142. 142. 144 ENJOY The flip side of the algorithmic perfect review. Created by the father of The Apple Store, Enjoy only sells electronics that its staff “uses and loves.” The research phase of a big electronics purchase, against which the companies in play spend millions, disappears. Enjoy website O3
  143. 143. 145 GOOGLE NOW As of June 2015, Google has announced that its Now software will instantly be able to assess what product is right for you, based off of what it knows about the rest of your life (for example, I should buy a small $19.95 composter from Oxxo for my garden, because it’s well-reviewed for use on brightly lit, urban rooftop gardens, whereas my mother needs an entirely different model for her backyard garden; plus she’s a bargain-hunter and I’m not). This type of Google research will soon simplify: the next Google Now could be capable of figuring out that you’re in the TV aisle at Best Buy, considering a choice. Using all of your personal data, plus Wirecutter’s data, plus financial information from your bank account, it will automatically recommend which of the 10,000 products would really be right for you.
  144. 144. 146 O3 The wonders of Google Now
  145. 145. 147 It’s Not Remotely Egalitarian, Though: The affluent will pay more for the same goods and services than the less affluent (which already happens on sites like Amazon). With more data, notions of “fairness” in pricing models will change. As mentioned,Amazonalreadycharges its affluent customers extra money for the very same good. (Their logic? If they know you’ll pay $2 more because you’re too lazy to price check the good on a competitive site, why not charge it?) Airline companies also do the same thing (boosting the price based on how many times you’ve searched the flight, aka quantifying how much you desire to travel). Apple has just patented technology that allows them to know what amount of credit is left on your credit lines, so they can know what you could afford to buy. Shopping will get even more seamless and delightful, sure, but with the current lack of privacy regulation, there will be a dark side to it, as well.
  146. 146. 148
  148. 148. 150 7NEW FAMOUS (ANONYMOUS) IS THE
  149. 149. 151 The ‘Normcore’ fashion trend originates with urban, younger Millennials, popularizing the wearing of Walmart clothes as a sort of reverse fashion statement. “For when you realize you’re one in 7 billion” was one of the movement’s better taglines. These younger Millennials have realized that feeling ‘special’ is an artifice, created by marketing, and a direct legacy of Edward Bernays. Normcore: A fashion trend in which one wears only commonplace items from stores like LL Bean, Walmart, GAP and Old Navy. Also sometimes referred to as ‘anti-fashion.’
  150. 150. 152 Simultaneously, a new kind of ‘fame’ is evolving— wherein well-known artists and personas subvert their real identities, preferring the freedom of true anonymity. In our post-Warhol social media era, and in the wordsofScottishartistMomus“Everyoneisfamous to 15 people,” many subsets of Millennials are interested in toying with the notions of invisibility, identity and even infamy all at the same time. We’ve already seen anonymity become a major political tool (Arab Spring), but it’s now going cultural, too. After all, Banksy—arguably the world’s most sought-after living artist—has never made his identity known to the public.
  151. 151. 153 Amid the Millennial set, cult personalities like @Seinfeld2000 use multiple medias to not only tell jokes as an anonymous person, but also to act as a meta-parody of fictional characters like Jerry Seinfeld. An example of @Seinfeld2000 in action:
  152. 152. 154 @Seinfeld2000 also wrote a hugely popular novella about President Barack Obama (which Warner Brothers attempted unsuccessfully to ban, citing copyright infringement), of which the opening lines, in their own invented, postmodern language, are as follows: “U.S. Presedent Barack Sadam Husene Obame sit in the darkened Oval Ofice at 2 a.m. wearing hes traditienel Kenyan robe. He take one last bite of the Chicago style deep dish pizza that he has flown to him every day on the Amerecan tax payer’s dime and wipe the grease off his mouth with the U.S. consititutien. “Eeny, meeny, miney, mo — which basic U.S. freedoms are next to go?” he say aloud to no one and every one at the same time. Then he flash that trade mark Bary Obame million doller grin as a crack of lightning sound in the distance.”
  153. 153. 155 @SEINFELD2000 STAYS ANONYMOUS BECAUSE HE’S NOT FINANCIALLY WELL-OFF ENOUGH TO REVEAL HIS IDENTITY AND LOSE HIS JOB TO BECOME FAMOUS. Despitemultiplepleasfromjournalists,theCanadianrefusestorevealanything more about his identity other than the facts that he is male and Canadian, in order to preserve the corporate life that makes him money. Anonymity also has broad sweeping economic implications, as well. The collective-turned-company HackerOne gained fame by hacking into 100 of the biggest global companies’ mainframes, and emailing those companies with the discovered security vulnerabilities. Originally seen as an out-of-control vigilante effort, it didn’t take long for Hacker One to go legit, given how clever the business idea was (we hack you for free, and then show you how we did it for a fee). The company just raised a $25MM round of financing.
  154. 154. 156 Modern economy flat-out encourages the bifurcation of identity. It’s smart to maintain one job, try out a second job on the fly, and keep a third in mind as a hobby. As previously discussed, this is a world that heaps reward on fast-adapters, and Millennials’ future financial survival will likely at some point be predicated on how quickly they can assume a new personal and/or professional identity.
  155. 155. 157 7 BLACK LIVES MATTER
  156. 156. 158 ACLARIONCALLFORACTION Hip hop has continually introduced artists who ignore the current aesthetics of traditional celebrity, and therefore notoriety. Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Kanye West, Common and many others are engaged in a dialogue about the state of race relations in America that’s so eloquent and important, their era of works will inarguably go down in history as one of music’s seminal periods. Of Kendrick Lamar’s landmark new album, To Pimp a Butterfly, The Fader’s Rawiya Kameir said, “God knows how long it will be before any of us fully grasp the stacked meanings, extended metaphors and shrouded complexities of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly. Definitely weeks, probably months.” “Ain’t nothin’ new but a flow of new Democrips and Rebloodlicans Red state vs. a blue state Which one are ya governin’?”
  157. 157. 159 Seats on an Airbus A380 49 81 628 853 African-American Millennials face a political system that has never produced equal rights for all American citizens. To paraphrase a recent speech by President Obama, addressing matters of race is about so much more than policing the language we use, it’s about ensuring the presence of equal opportunity. NUMBER OF BLACK EMPLOYEES AT LEADING TECH COMPANIES
  158. 158. 160 Ta-Nehisi Coates’ luminous new book, Between the World and Me, is a letter to his Millennial-aged son. In it he discusses America’s ceaseless history of violence on African Americans, leaving them vulnerable to arrest without cause, poverty, false imprisonment and worse. He reminds us that America is a nation built on stolen land, through the tool of subjugation. Toni Morrison calls the text “required reading,” but her endorsement feels like an understatement once one launches into the first page, and then is sent reeling through Mr. Coates’ depictions of his Baltimore childhood, his education at Howard University, his “mecca,” and the fear for his body that consumes “30% of his brain” at any given time during his adolescence. “I have seen that dream all my life. It is perfect houses with nice lawns. It is Memorial Day cookouts, block associations, and driveways. The Dream is treehouses and the Cub Scouts. The Dream smells like peppermint but tastes like strawberry shortcake. And for so long I have wanted to escape into the Dream, to fold my country over my head like a blanket. But this has never been an option because the Dream rests on our backs, the bedding made from our bodies.” He speaks of The American Dream as just that: a dream.
  159. 159. 161
  161. 161. 163
  163. 163. 165 To think, a mere five years ago, it was expected that at some point every homosexual person was to “come out” to the rest of society, because apparently society was owed that explanation. Now, younger Millennials have gloriously taken the identity and sexuality privileges that Boomers and Gen Xers lost their lives to fight for and are now happily running wild. Without any grand, pained “coming out” explanations, heroes like Miley Cyrus, J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons, Angelina Jolie, Lady Gaga, Amber Heard, supermodel Cara Delevingne freely, (sometimes occasionally, sometimes steadily) date women. Matt Bomer, Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Chabon, date or marry men. It’s hard to name a star who is an A-list force at the box office who’s not publicly somewhere on the sexuality spectrum. Caitlyn Jenner took the cover of Vanity Fair by storm. Perhaps no one said it simpler or better than late night host Seth Meyers, who put his jokes aside for a moment and commented that he was so grateful to be “living in a time where we are all so happy about Bruce going public as Caitlyn.” Fashion doesn’t get any more beautiful than 2015
  164. 164. 166 IN THEIR FUTURE, THE FLUIDITY WILL ONLY FURTHER NORMALIZE AND INCREASE. In the instances of gender and sexuality, the older Millennials are truly learning from the younger ones, many of whom have shed their pretense. Perhaps the first subset of a generation to grow up with ‘out’ pop stars and movie stars of all varieties, younger Millennials have no reflexive memory of unflinching culture fear and disdain for being not-straight. Ever since Lady Gaga roared that she was “Born This Way” and Google placed her atop the Brooklyn Bridge, younger Millennials have not looked back And how lucky we all are, for that.
  165. 165. 167 7 MILLENNIALS, AGING, QUESTION TIME of and the
  166. 166. 168 “These joys were so trifling as to be as imperceptible as grains of gold among the sand, and in moments of depression she saw nothing but the sand; yet there were brighter moments when she felt nothing but joy, saw nothing but the gold.” - Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina “Our ancestors learned how to remember, and we will learn how to forget.” - Clive Thompson, Smarter Than You Think, 2013 “Time is an illusion.” - Albert Einstein
  167. 167. 169 With special, heightened consideration given to the younger Millennials, cohorts of this generation will have relationships with time that are different to any humans who’ve come before them.
  168. 168. 170 With videography and photography made casual and archivable by the smartphone, we have now becomeanationofarchivists.YoungerMillennials will have the very best records of their online lives, given the number of life-chronicling tools that have emerged in the last five years, and will continue to emerge in the next. We will now bequeath our descendants ever-improving digital time capsules of our lives. Last year, T.C. Boyle wrote a story for The New Yorker called “The Relive Box,” in which a widowed man and his young girl slowly become addicted to using their Halcom X1520 Relive Box to relive their favorite memories of life with their now-deceased mom. “[My daughter] was going to bed, and I was going back to a rainy February night in 1982, a sold-out show at the Roxy,” the father says. The bittersweet story could not be a more accurate prediction of the near future. For the time being, we have our primitive time- traveling tools: our Stone Age-era Timehop apps (search your Facebook and Instagram photos from this date, last year, 2 years and 3 years+ ago); our data-gathering, preference-learning devices (Google Now knowing that you love gourmet ice cream and making a recommendation on a trip); the letter-writing site future.me, on which one can write an email to their future selves or a loved one.
  169. 169. 171 Some of the most trivial-seeming mobile apps built by Millennials are actually reimagining the way we think about the self over time. Snapchat figured something out that had previously eclipsed the greatest minds in social media: people don’t always want to see themselves in the future. Sometimes people actually like to forget. Maybe we’ll someday come to regret letting all of Snapchat’s disappearing images disappear, but for the time being, the app is serving a vital need Millennials (especially younger Millennials, the more determined life-loggers) have: to live certain moments without the onus of memory.
  170. 170. 172 This agita over our own image is nothing new; the act of staring at ourselves has been altering human consciousness for thousands of years. In the 1400s, the invention of the Murano glass mirror was actually a crucial enabler of the Renaissance. As Steven Johnson wrote in his wonderful book How We Got To Now: “[Glass mirrors] set in motion a reorientation of society. […] Social conventions as well as property rights and other legal customs began to revolve around the individual rather than the older, more collective units: the family, the tribe, the city, the kingdom. People began writing about their interior lives with far more scrutiny. Hamlet ruminated onstage, the novel emerged as a dominant form of storytelling, probing the inner mental lives of its characters with an unrivaled depth. Entering a novel, particularly a first-person narrative, was a kind of collective parlor trick: it let you swim through consciousness. […] The psychological novel, in a sense, is the kind of story you start wanting to hear once you begin spending meaningful hours of your life staring at yourself in a mirror.” Snapchat is a meaningful invention because it’s tethering identity to the opposite of a mirror. It’s the first picture or video-based mass social media tool that’s not so overtly, gratuitously about the self—it’s about other people. We send Snapchats to share a sincere happening, to react, to make someone else feel loved, to make someone else laugh. We think primarily about the other, not about the self, precisely because the medium doesn’t lend itself well to self-congratulation.
  171. 171. 173 As Millennials young and old, rich and poor imbue their lives with a greater awareness of community’s importance, of living on less, of detaching their self worth from the constraints of a job at a major corporation, it’s only natural that they will completely reconsider not only what the individual is, but how the individual behaves and is remembered.
  173. 173. 175 Oculus Rift, perhaps a predecessor to T.C. Boyle’s invented “Halcom X1520 Relive Box,” is about to unleash its powers on the world sometime next year. Interestingly, Facebook competitor Google has begun thinking more democratically about what AR technology could do for the planet by way of its highly affordable AR-riff, Google Cardboard. By using nothing more than cardboard to give any smartphone transformative, reality- augmenting powers, Google has now created a series of educational ‘tours’ called Google Field Trips, intended to allow students to explore the sites and sights they’re studying in history.
  174. 174. 176 In James Gleick’s seminal 2011 book, The Information, he investigates the work of Dr. Elizabeth Eisenstein, one of the most futuristic thinkers about time and reality in the 1960s (she was an avid follow of Marshall McLuhan, of course). Dr. Eisenstein concluded that “The past is becoming more accessible, more visible” than it had ever been. As we prepare for augmented reality to begin its trickle-down journey into every home in America, her words could not have been more accurate. Imagine the best, most high definition TV or movie screen you’ve come across, pair it with the best surround sound, and imagine that setup enabling the Millennials of the future to relive the day they adopted their son—with him, now an adolescent, in the room. This is their future. Now amplify that future with smell. Dead Man’s Eyes, a prototype developed by Dr. Stuart Eve, allows archaeologists to add smell to their augmented reality film of the past.
  175. 175. 177 “During the Bronze Age the site on Bodmin Moor was a tin-mining village. When Dr Eve held the camera up to the hill (left) a series of huts appeared to make it look like he was exploring the ancient village (right). These reconstructions move and change in real- time as the user moves around the terrain.”
  177. 177. 179 The individual, the very story America was predicated on, is shrinking in importance in the eyes of many Millennials. The sharing economy predicates telling a story that’s much more interesting about a collective of people, not an individual person. Television has gone longform, often to explore a myriad of characters who, like Tolstoy’s characters from his masterpiece Anna Karenina, are each a different person in the eyes of every person they meet. Think then of The Sopranos, or of True Detective’s Detective Rustin “Rust” Cohle viewed through the eyes of his partner, Detective Martin Hart, versus how Hart’s wife Maggie viewed him. The stories older and younger Millennials are gravitating toward are lusciously complicated mosaics, not linear stories of individual triumph. Oftentimes the three act structure is completely abandoned; after two thousand years of success, it no longer seems suited to our time.
  178. 178. 180 ONCLUCONCLUSION
  179. 179. 181 USION And so we will emerge to find ourselves living in an era of digital hippies. Millennials will live, work and thrive in tight-knit communities, untethered from the draconian constraints of a 9-to-5, learning to live on less. The prices of things, Millennials have discovered, are entirely arbitrary. A mortgage doesn’t have to cost $200,000 because Toll Brothers said it should. A home can be built for a quarter of that, and without a long term mortgage. Land can be shared, and isolation avoided. Services can be traded and summer homes can be small communes, with 500 square foot treehouses sequestered around a small pond. Work can be freelance, and span a multitude of industries that ebb and flow, given the year. Craftsmanship can be valued, even deified. School can be of the trade variety, a random and lifelong experience, and not something we heap upon the ungrateful like a 4-year-long quinceanera. Nature can be embraced, not ignored. Love can be love: gay, straight or whatever. Labels can be left to history’s annals. Black lives can be examined and re-imagined, until we no longer have to gather in the streets and cry out that they matter.
  180. 180. 182
  181. 181. 183 A farcical equality for some or a noble equality for all—that is our generation’s choice. We should not allow the world to come to rest in its current socioeconomic state, wherein, in the words of the Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, “A rising tide lifts all yachts.” That is not acceptable. The old American Dream, too often deferred to deserve the privilege of reference, may be dead in its current states, but it will leave behind something better. Something achievable. Something magical. Something worthy of the word Millennial.
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