October 29, 2007

20071029-04 Internet Librarian PL Track: Cranky? Boomers and Older Adults are Graying the Internet

Filed under: precat — jenny @ 4:01 pm

– Allan M. Kleiman (Old Bridge Public Library)
internet is not gray yet
“while you were whale watching, some of us were watching the salmon spawn”
whale watching = myspace, facebook
salmon spawn = cranky & other senior sites
sites that are spawning and going upstream to die
what has spawned is something “new” and “exciting” in social networking
comparing the whale and the salmon is interesting
when people think of senior sites on the web, they only think of AARP, but that’s not really a social networking site
most of all, you need to share today’s information with your colleagues and the boomers and older adults who use your library
the numbers are confusing
22% of seniors 65 and older use the internet (Pew)
fastest growing segment of internet users are those 85+
– well, if you have no one 85+ using the internet and then you do, it’s the fastest-growing segment
currently 35 million older adults and by 2020 the older adults population will double
big business in developing & “hooking” the baby boomers now
they’re trying to hook them into social networking sites, but how? no idea because don’t see any ads, flyers, etc.
older adults are not attracted to these lifestyle websites
sites that are connected to another organization are doing well, while independent sites are not doing so well
they all have the same colors and design and look the same after awhile
SeniorNet was the first organization to develop senior sites around the US, but you had to pay to join and that usually doesn’t work with how libraries operate
Allan’s library is working with SeniorNet to expand their services into libraries
their website is good for viewing structured online learning; they have book clubs, blogs, etc.
everyone else’s site looks the same, but they did it first
Third Age was the “first” social networking (learning) site in 1997
all of these sites are intended for upper to middle class, white, women
no comparable site for men yet
Eons site
they know nothing about their users’ lifestyles and don’t market to them
focus on people, fun, love, money, body, lifepath, obits (ha!), games, travel
was founded by Monster.com CEO Jeff Taylor, but he’s not a boomer so he doesn’t get it
most of the boomer websites are looking at people with money, hoping you’ll click on companies who can help you travel, invest money, etc.
Eons has $32 million investment
half of their staff was let go, though
beginning to see the collapse of the new hope of social networking sites
let the competition begin
if a site is not allied with an organization, it is running on venture capital investments hoping to reap rewards
what is useful?
– more friendly versions of myspace and facebook
– “Eons, Rezoom, Multiply (a fancier Flickr; don’t even mention money, life, etc.; only site that shows people of different ages and colors), Maya’s Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook – with wrinkles.” NYT 9/12/2007
– also said “old people are sticky,” meaning brand-loyal
but boomers are not brand loyal
new search engine – http://cranky.com/
it’s an outgrowth of eons
found the 5000 most popular websites among a group of 500,000 web users aged 45 and older and rated each site
possibly based on ask.com’s search engine
about once or twice a day, they change the rankings on the home page
#1 search was about sex
which isn’t surprising, any good social networking sites for seniors will include companionship
(at his library, they’re requesting a speed dating night for seniors!)
also high in rankings
– longevity calculator
– sudoku
– eat healthy
– jobs after retirement
– wallpapers
– online dating
– retirement community
– work from home
the search here is nonthreatening and easier to use, easier to read because of lower starting set
results are comparable to yahoo
almost 80% of what he picks up on cranky duplicates what he gets on google
they only display 4 results per page
heading = cRANKy
because it’s connected with eons, their content is listed and linked to at the bottom of each page
what’s new out there?
eldr.com – mission is to help baby boomers and their aging parents deal with the challenges and opportunities of aging by providing the most useful thought-provoking and trusted information available anywhere
one issue is out
website looks the same as the other senior sites
believes this will stay around because there is a complementary magazine and because it was started by a builder of homes for older adults; he wants to give back to the community for the people he works with
– redhatsociety.com; 40,000 chapters in US/worldwide; wear red hats, purple dress
– “all my life I’ve done for you, now it’s my turn to do for me”
– another site that’s based on an organization
– Boomers! TV: Redefining life after 50
– producing shows on PBS about growing older, retirement, etc.; site has a little social networking
graying of the internet is really about blogging
AP found that seniors love blogging because it helps them keep their minds going, keep yourself up-to-date because you’re ready other blogs, can share life experiences, can meet other people from across the world
in some cases, senior blogs give the authors a bit of fame
3% of seniors in the US have created a blog
17% have read someone else’s blog
22% of americans aged 65 and older use the internet (1 in 5)
The Ageless Project
a website that lists blogs or websites of people in order of their birth year; there are 2 sites for people over age 90!
(sites with no commercial content)
Allan’s library is starting a blogging class next month
will try to market the blogs of the class participants
so what do we do with all of this information?
there’s life beyond myspace
– we should show people Cranky in computer class training
– link some of these resources from your library’s website (libraries usually link to negative sites, whereas social networking sites are usually positive
– join the sites and test them; otherwise you won’t really understand what they do
– become a participant
– add web 2.0 technology to your web classes
– provide feedback, both positive and negative to the sites
social networking sites for seniors are here to stay, even if these specific sites don’t survive
things that Old Bridge PL can do that you can, too
– have created a “senior space,” possibly the first in the US (users can listen to records)
– phase one set up the area
– phase two is to develop a web 2.0 classroom where seniors can also use computers on their own
– adding a “let’s try it” laboratory
– adding to their class list based on their Advisory Board
– first library to launch Wii for older adults on November 9
– teens will teach the older adults to Wii
– planning for a Wii NJ tournament in spring 2008
– are re-training their librarians to train 2.0
keep looking for information about what’s going on with older adults and social networking
his presentation will be at libraryolderadults.blogspot.com or infolink.org/seniorspaces
question: you didn’t mention AARP, why not?
answer: AARP is still an informational site, not a social networking site; it’s not the site I think of when I want to go somewhere and have fun; I use it a lot and link to it, but doesn’t see it as a true interactive site where people can meet
question: ABA is looking at implementing MyABA; do you have pointers for how to get people to use these sites?
answer: you’ll have to do a lot of hand-holding and tutorials; train the assistants (paralegals, secretaries, etc.) to help them
question: do you know if webmasters at these sites are talking to boomers and seniors?
answer: doesn’t think so because the sites don’t reflect these groups; that’s why we need to join these things and comment on them – help them change the content to make it more useful for us and for the community


  1. There is lots to do on http://www.eons.com! Social networking is going strong with almost 3,000 groups of active members meeting each other and sharing insight on everything from RVing, NASCAR racing, health issues to just plain having fun! Eons members are taking their new online friendships offline to coffee shops, libraries, and vacation outings all over the country. Come and check it out for yourself! Social networking for boomers is alive and booming on Eons!

    Comment by Beth — October 31, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  2. […] For example, and of particular interest to Tech Talkers, Jenny Levine gives a recap of the session Cranky? Boomers and Older Adults are Graying the Internet. […]

    Pingback by Internet Librarian 2007 « MCLC Library Tech Talk — November 1, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

  3. […] last month’s Internet Librarian conference, we learned that among other services for seniors, the Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey was planning to hold a Wii tournament for older adults. Why on earth would a library do […]

    Pingback by The Shifted Librarian » Still More Reasons to Offer Gaming in Libraries (and the Value of Play) — November 28, 2007 @ 6:42 am

  4. […] last month’s Internet Librarian conference, we learned that among other services for seniors, the Old Bridge Public Library in New Jersey was planning to hold a Wii tournament for older adults. Why on earth would a library do […]

    Pingback by Blog Feeds » Blog Archive » Still More Reasons to Offer Gaming in Libraries (and the Value of Play) — November 30, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

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