The Millennial Muddle on Strauss & Howe’s Generational Theory | The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Millennial Muddle; Eric Hoover; In The Chronicle of Higher Education; 2009-10-11.
Teaser: How stereotyping students became a thriving industry and a bundle of contradictions

Original Sources



  • Definition: “The Millennials” are born between 1982 and 2004.
  • Reminder
    • Every generation has done this
    • These guys are “selling maps” to folks who need that:
      • businesses
      • colleges (a form of business)
      • election machines
  • Millennial Generation
    • Millennials <quote> “Their life mission will not be to tear down old institutions that don’t work, but to build up new ones that do.”</quote> attributed to Strauss & Howe.
    • The “core traits”
      1. special,
      2. sheltered,
      3. confident,
      4. team-oriented,
      5. conventional,
      6. pressured,
      7. achieving.
  • Homeland Generation
    • born 2005-25
    • will fit an “artist” archetype
    • Biographies
      • <quote>[Straus & Howe] were not social scientists; they were Washington wonks.</quote>
      • Howe
        • Concord Coalition (deficit reduction, Social Security reform)
        • consultant in demand for his ability to explain the youth
        • Attended UCSD 1970
        • Attended UCB 1970-1974ish after George Winne Jr self-immolated at UCSD.
      • Strauss
        • Ford White House
        • Senate staff
        • Capital Steps, a comedy troupe
        • died 2007
  • LifeCourse Associates, Great Falls VA
    • Staff
      • 3, max age 28
    • Publications
      • Millennials Go to College,
      • Millennials & K-12 Schools
      • Millennials and the Pop Culture
      • Millennials in the Workplace, future
    • Practice
      • Article writing
      • Speeches given
        • fees: $5,000-$14,000
        • 60 speeches a year
        • followup workshops
      • Consulting
        • Colleges
        • Advertising
        • Lifestyle
      • Reference Customers
        • Chartwells
          a food service company
        • Ford
          Advice to riff on the Hero concept (Millennials are Hero archetypes in the theory)
        • Hewlett-Packard,
        • Kraft,
        • Nabisco,
        • National Guard (of some state)
        • Nike.
        • U.S. Army
          actually an unnamed agency applying for the  Army’s advertising contract.
        • Some M&A shop in Prague
  • Secular Trends in in College Admissions (this is the Chronicle of Higher Education
    • stealth applicants
    • early admission programs
    • statistical modelling, price optimization
    • parents are co-purchasers
    • student engagement
    • mental health services
    • parent offices, parent orientations


  • Mary Crane
    • was once
      • a lobbyist,
      • an assistant chef at the White House,
    • (now) a generational consultant
    • Customers
      • Fortune 500 companies,
      • law firms.
  • Eric Greenberg
  • Lynne Lancaster
    • a management consultant and “cultural translator”
    • co-founder and partner, BridgeWorks LLC
  • Kanna Hudson
    • Age 26, 2009.
    • a former academic counselor
    • now at, a lifestyle consulting shop
  • Scott Degraffenreid
    • consultant a former forensic accountant,
    • Scott Degraffenreid; Understanding the Millennial Mind: A Menace or Amazing?; Just Brilliant Services; 1st edition; 2008; 199 pages; kindle: no, paper: $40+SHT.
    • <quote>patented the term “crash-test geniuses” to refer to young people’s willingness to “reboot” and learn from failures, even if it means walking away from their jobs. </quote>
  • Eric Chester
    • a former teacher
    • Generation Why, a lifestyle consultancy; maybe succeeded by Reviving Work Ethic
    • <quote>his Web site describes young people as “weird-looking and impossible to understand.”</quote>
  • Susanna Wolff
    • Age 21, in 2009
    • a senior at Columbia University, in 2009
    • an oped weekly feature called “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” for

Detraction, Color, Balance

  • Other unnamed academics who “chuckled”
  • Arthur E. Levine, Jeanette S. Cureton; When Hope and Fear Collide: A Portrait of Today’s College Student; Jossey-Bass; 1st edition; 1009-02-27; 208 pages; kindle: $32, paper: $0.01+SHT.
    tl;dr => not impressed with Generational Theory; kids are not that different now than way back when
  • Palmer H. Muntz, director of admissions and an enrollment-management consultant at Lincoln Christian University, Illinois.
    tl;dr => not impressed with Generational Theory; kids are packaged in ways that colleges want/need to see them.
  • John H. Pryor, Sylvia Hurtado, Victor B. Saenz, José Luis Santos, William S. Korn; American Freshmen: Forty Year Trends; Cooperative Institutional Research Program; UCLA; 2006?; 66 pages.
  • Richard H. Mullendore, a former vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia
  • Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy, executive director of Naspa-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
  • Jeannine C. Lalonde, senior assistant dean of admissions at the University of Virginia.
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia.
    tl;dr => “Generational thinking is just a benign form of bigotry, in which you flatten out diversity. This is debilitating to the job of trying to work with young people.” (it’s WEIRD types… not minorities… get it?)
  • Fred A. Bonner II, Associate professor in the department of educational administration and human resources at Texas A&M University (see below).
  • Lisa A. Rossbacher, president of Southern Polytechnic State University, in Georgia.
    tl;dr => Howe’s insights weren’t deep; they would have done the changes anyway.

<paraphrase>To accept generational thinking, one must find a way to swallow two large assumptions.

  1. That tens of millions of people, born over about 20 years, are fundamentally different from people of other age groups
  2. and that those tens of millions of people are similar to each other in meaningful ways.

This idea is the underpinning of Mr. Howe’s conclusion that each generation turns a historical corner, breaking sharply with the previous generation’s traits and values.</paraphrase>

Jean M. Twenge

Mark Bauerlien

  • The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30; Tarcher; 2009-05-14; 253 pages; kindle: $11, paper: $0.01+SHT.
  • Age 50, in 2009.
  • Writes for The Chronicle Review, the blog Brainstorm.
  • director, “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America” ; National Endowment for the Arts; 2004; 82 pages; kindle: $6, paper: $16+SHT.
  • Debated Neil Howe at American Enterprise Institute, 2013?
  • <quote>Like Ms. Twenge, Mr. Bauerlein describes his book as a labor of love, not scorn.</quote>
  • <quote>Several technophiles in academe have cast Mr. Bauerlein as a Luddite who clings to a single (and dated) definition of literacy.</quote>

Fred A. Bonner II

The Web never forgets: Persistent tracking mechanisms in the wild | Acar, Eubank, Englehardt, Juarez, Narayanan, Diaz

Gunes Acar, Christian Eubank, Steven Englehardt, Marc Juarez, Arvind Narayanan, Claudia Diaz; The Web never forgets: Persistent tracking mechanisms in the wild; In Proceedings of the Conference on Computer & Communication Security (CCS); 2014-11, draft of 2014-07-24; 16 pages; landing including some data in tabular format.


We present the first large-scale studies of three advanced web tracking mechanisms — canvas fingerprinting, evercookies and use of “cookie syncing” in conjunction with evercookies. Canvas fingerprinting, a recently developed form of browser fingerprinting, has not previously been reported in the wild; our results show that over 5% of the top 100,000 websites employ it. We then present the first automated study of evercookies and respawning and the discovery of a new evercookie vector, IndexedDB. Turning to cookie syncing, we present novel techniques for detection and analysing ID flows and we quantify the amplification of privacy-intrusive track- ing practices due to cookie syncing.

Our evaluation of the defensive techniques used by privacy-aware users finds that there exist subtle pitfalls — such as failing to clear state on multiple browsers at once — in which a single lapse in judgement can shatter privacy defenses. This suggests that even sophisticated users face great difficulties in evading tracking techniques.


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Via: backfill

On de-identification, a debate

In order of appearance

The Claim: Cavoukian & Castro

tl;dr => de-anonynmization “plays a role”, the risks are small (enough), there are ameliorizations & remediations for every concern.


The Rebuttal: Narayanan & Felten

tl;dr => it doesn’t work, the reasoning is flawed; you can de-anonymize, we already showed that.  “… is not an option” as the hard line.


Via the commentariat


  • Paul Ohm, Broken promises of privacy: Responding to the surprising failure of anonymization, UCLA L. Rev., 57, 1701 (2009).
  • Ann Cavoukian, Daniel Castro; Big Data and Innovation, Setting the Record Straight: Deidentification Does Work; 2014.
  • Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye et al.; Unique in the Crowd: The privacy bounds of human mobility; Scientific Reports; Volume 3; 2013.
  • Hui Zang, Jean Bolot; Anonymization of location data does not work: A large-scale measurement study; In Proceedings of the 17th Intl. Conf. on Mobile Computing and Networking; 2011; pages 145-156.
  • Philippe Golle, Kurt Partridge; On the anonymity of home/work location pairs; In Pervasive Computing; 2009; pages 390-397.
  • Arvind Narayanan, Vitaly Shmatikov; Robust de-anonymization of large sparse datasets, in Proceedings of the 2008 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy; 2008; pages 111-125.
  • Johan Ugander, Brian Karrer, Lars Backstrom, Cameron Marlow; The anatomy of the Facebook social graph; In arXiv; 2011; arXiv:1111.4503.
  • Vijay Pandurangan; On Taxis and Rainbows: Lessons from NYC’s improperly anonymized taxi logs; 2014.
  • Edward Felten (FTC); Does Hashing Make Data “Anonymous”?; In Tech @FTC; 2012.
  • Arvind Narayanan; A De-anonymization Walkthrough; In His Blog entitled 33 Bits of Entropy; 2008.
  • Khaled El Emam et al., De-identification methods for open health data: the case of the Heritage Health Prize claims dataset, Journal of Medical Internet Research; Volume 14, Number 1; 2012.
  • Arvind Narayanan, An Adversarial Analysis of the Reidentifiability of the Heritage Health Prize Dataset; (unpublished?) manuscript; 2011.

The Response: El Eman & Arbuckle

De-Identification: A Critical Debate; Khaled El Emam, Luk Arbuckle; In Future of Privacy Forum; 2014-07-24

  • Khaled El Emam, University of Ottawa, CHEO Research Institute & Privacy Analytics Inc.
  • Luk Arbuckle, CHEO Research Institute, Privacy Analytics Inc.

tl;dr => it does too work, if you tolerate some re-identification around the edges.



  • K. El Emam, E. Jonker, L. Arbuckle, and B. Malin, “A Systematic Review of Re-Identification Attacks on Health Data,” PLoS ONE, vol. 6, no. 12, p. e28071, Dec. 2011.
  • Anna Monreale, Gennady L. Andrienko, Natalia V. Andrienko, Fosca Giannotti, Dino Pedreschi, Salvatore Rinzivillo, and Stefan Wrobel, “Movement Data Anonymity through Generalization,” Transactions on Data Privacy, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 91–121, 2010.
  • S. C. Wieland, C. A. Cassa, K. D. Mandl, and B. Berger, “Revealing the spatial distribution of a disease while preserving privacy,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., vol. 105, no. 46, pp. 17608–17613, Nov. 2008.
  • K. El Emam and L. Arbuckle, Anonymizing Health Data: Case Studies and Methods to Get You Started. O’Reilly, 2013.
  • L. Willenborg and T. de Waal, Statistical Disclosure Control in Practice. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1996.
  • L. Willenborg and T. de Waal, Elements of Statistical Disclosure Control. New York: Springer-Verlag, 2001.
  • K. El Emam, Guide to the De-Identification of Personal Health Information. CRC Press (Auerbach), 2013.
  • K. El Emam, L. Arbuckle, G. Koru, B. Eze, L. Gaudette, E. Neri, S. Rose, J. Howard, and J. Gluck, “De-identification Methods for Open Health Data: The Case of the Heritage Health Prize Claims Dataset,” Journal of Medical Internet Research, vol. 14, no. 1, p. e33, Feb. 2012.
  • K. El Emam, F. Dankar, R. Issa, E. Jonker, D. Amyot, E. Cogo, J.-P. Corriveau, M. Walker, S. Chowdhury, R. Vaillancourt, T. Roffey, and J. Bottomley, “A Globally Optimal k-Anonymity Method for the De-identification of Health Data,” Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 670–682, 2009.
  • K. El Emam, E. Jonker, E. Moher, and L. Arbuckle, “A Review of Evidence on Consent Bias in Research,” American Journal of Bioethics, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 42–44, 2013.

The Power of Positive Publishing | New York Magazine

The Power of Positive Publishing; Boris Kachka; In New York Magazine; 2013-01-06.
Teaser: How self-help ate America.


… roughly in order of appearance.

  • Dwight MacDonald; Howtoism; a book; 1954 (not listed in Amazon)
  • Best Sellers in Self-Help; a list; on Amazon
  • Charles Duhigg; The Power of Habit,
  • Paulo Coelho; The Alchemist, a novel
  • Susan Cain; Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, 
  • Will Schwalbe; The End of Your Life Book Club, a memoir
  • David Pelzer; A Child Called “It” ; a memoir
  • John Gray; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus: The Classic Guide to Understanding the Opposite Sex; original publisher: Harper?; reprint publisher: Harper; 2012-04-03; 368 pages; kindle: no, paper: $0.01+SHT.
  • William Shinker
    • publisher of Gotham Books
    • discovered (?) John Gray; Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus
    • publishes books on “willpower” and “vulnerability”—“self-help masquerading as ‘big-idea’ books”
  • Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hanson; Chicken Soup for the Soul
  • Ted Turner
  • Daniel Kahneman
  • Poor Richard’s Almanack
  • Dr. Spock.
  • Dale Carnegie
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Norman Vincent Peale
  • The New Age
  • New Thought
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Sigmund Freud
  • William James
  • Me Decade
  • Harper & Row relocates it’s religion division to San Francisco in 1977.
  • Esalen
  • Human Potential
  • Hazelden clinic
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • the recovery movement
  • Melody Beattie Codependent No More
  • Linda Loewenthal
    • editor, Harmony Books, a self-help publisher
    • references the recovery movement boom as “my awakening to the power of naming something.”
    • “An increasing segment of the market wants to read about the synthesis of different modalities.”
  • Esther Margolis, Newmarket Press, a self-help publisher
  • Suze Orman
    • Merrill Lynch
    • advice to the unemployed
    • middle class home economics advice via Newmarket Press
  • Deepak Chopra
    • Tufts
    • Boston University
    • meditation
    • Ageless Body, Timeless Mind: The Quantum Alternative to Growing Old; Harmony Books; 1993.
  • Oprah Winfrey
    • attributed as “by 2000″
    • book promotions
    • Eckart Tolle, The Power of Now.
    • Rhonda Byrne; The Secret,.
    • The Corrections, a novel.
    • The Road, a novel.
  • Malcolm Gladwell; The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference; Abacus?; 2000; Black Bay Books; 2002-01-07; 301 pages; kindle: $10, paper: $1+SHT.
  • Eckhart Tolle; The Power of Now; 1997
    • 3000 copies
    • best seller after Oprah promo
  • Rhonda Byrne; The Secret,; Atria Books/Beyond Words; reprint; 2006; 198 pages; kindle: $12, paper: $2+SHT.
    tl;dr => a magical-thinking throwback to New Thought; an Oprah promotion
  • Greg Brandenburgh
    • ex-Harper San Francisco.
    • “What you’re looking for is to publish on conditions that are chronic and incurable,”
  • Heather Jackson
    • an editor, Harmony Books
    • demographic of interest: “the worried well looking to optimize, to make their lives that much better.”
    • Example: Timothy Ferriss’s The 4-Hour Workweek.
  • Timothy Ferriss; The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich; Harmony; 2007-04-24; 320 pages; kindle: no, paper: $0.01+SHT.
  • life-hacking
  • inefficiency remediation
  • essayistic self-help
  • Caroline Sutton
    • on essayistic self-help “Somebody’s gonna kill me for saying this, but I think it was The Tipping Point,” Gladwell’s 2000 argument for the power of social connections, which made it safe for techies and business types—and, more generally, men—to read about bettering themselves. “The whole idea of showing that there is a counter­intuitive way of looking at information, to make you understand yourself in a completely different way—that’s been game-changing.”
    • Hudson Street Press of Penguin.
    • was at Random House.
    • “I think it’s important to offer out a promise to the reader, It’s a kind of quintessentially American thing.”
    • Concept: big idea science
    • “TED, is sort of like the new Oprah.”
  • Daniel Goleman
  • Toni Burbank
    • editor, Bantam Books.
    • <quote>a veteran self-help guru</quote>
    • Daniel Goleman; Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ; 1995.
  • Sharon Begley
  • Positive Psychology, a subgenre
  •  Like so many movements of the past, it began as the province of professionals pursuing greater knowledge or maybe better policy—until it was brought down to Earth by
  • Gretchen Rubin


The snide commentary of Boris Kachka in the article.  Quoting…

  • …books on “willpower” and “vulnerability”—“self-help masquerading as ‘big-idea’ books.”
  • Today, every section of the store (or web page) overflows with instructions, anecdotes, and homilies. History books teach us how to lead, neuroscience how to use our amygdalas, and memoirs how to eat, pray, and love.
  • Instead of …
    • Instead of regulation, we have that new buzzword, self-regulation;
    • instead of an ambivalence over “selling out,” we have the millennial drive to “monetize”; and
    • instead of seeking to build better institutions, we mine them in order to build better selves.
  • Universities now devote faculty to fields (positive psychology, motivation science) that function as research arms of the self-help industry.
  • [J]ournalists schooled in a sense of public mission turn their skills to fulfilling our emotional needs.
  • But since self-help trails with it that old shameful stigma, the smartest writers and publishers shun the obvious terminology. And the savviest readers enjoy the masquerade, knowing full well what’s behind the costume: self-help with none of the baggage.
  • Linkbaits
  • The “recovery” system named everything, defining every problem as a personal illness to be conquered
    • toxic parents,
    • women who love too much,
    • obesity,
    • excessive shopping,
    • “codependency,” which could potentially encompass any human relationship.
  • The guru has given way to the data set—as explicated by journalists eager to break the constraints of a shrinking medium by pitching their discoveries directly to the masses. And where yesterday’s healers had their Esalen Institute and ­Hazelden, journalists and scientist-writers have lecture circuits. “TED,” says Sutton, “is sort of like the new Oprah.”

Via: backfill