9 June 2012

Genevieve Bell: women are tech’s new lead adopters

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Social scientist Genevieve Bell – who is also the interaction and experience research director at Intel Labs – gave a major talk on what the future of technology looks like, and why middle-aged women may determine that future.

The talk, entitled “Telling the Stories of the Future: Technology, Culture and What Really Matters”, was the keynote at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Conference that took place in Brisbane in April, and was rebroadcast as a “Big Idea Talk” on Australian Radio.

Alexis Madrigal explores her talk in more depth at Atlantic, and cites some quotes, including these ones:

“It turns out women are our new lead adopters. When you look at internet usage, it turns out women in Western countries use the internet 17 percent more every month than their male counterparts. Women are more likely to be using the mobile phones they own, they spend more time talking on them, they spend more time using location-based services. But they also spend more time sending text messages. Women are the fastest growing and largest users on Skype, and that’s mostly younger women. Women are the fastest category and biggest users on every social networking site with the exception of LinkedIn. Women are the vast majority owners of all internet enabled devices – i.e. readers, healthcare devices, GPS – that whole bundle of technology is mostly owned by women.

So it turns out if you want to find out what the future looks like, you should be asking women. And just before you think that means you should be asking 18-year-old women, it actually turns out the majority of technology users are women in their 40s, 50s and 60s. So if you wanted to know what the future looks like, those turn out to be the heaviest users of the most successful and most popular technologies on the planet as we speak.”

“Furthermore, most consumers don’t own devices just by themselves, those devices exist within social networks. Consumers share devices in families, so that a mobile phone is owned by multiple people, a laptop is used by multiple people, an email account is used by multiple people. […]”

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