Developed by Brian Hanley, Master's of Engineering degree candidate at Lehigh University

Developed by Brian Hanley, Master's of Engineering degree candidate at Lehigh University
Once a history major, I'm now making history developing innovative products to improve processes. I'm not a millionaire. I'm an expert at nothing. I'm simply here to share what I've learned.

Gen Y Pic


My generation inherited the digital era. For better or for worse, it found us. Immersed in user-generated content since day one, it became my generation’s instinct to create, and perhaps more exceptionally, to share our creations with the world. We rapped to the Lion King, invented the cat meme and edited our own encyclopedias.


But, alas, current copyright law opposes our collaborative instinct. It chokes to death our creative spirit. It challenges fundamentally what and who we are.


Pulling incessantly in opposite directions, copyright law and my generation have agreed to a stalemate. The law proscribes the very behavior that defines us. It prohibits precisely what it means to be and feel young.


Inevitably, we ignore or even abandon the law altogether. We pirate the music that we love and become criminals in the process. Condemned to a destiny of piracy, we lurk thirstily in the sea of cyberspace.


But are we to blame for our piracy? Are we to blame when, we intersected, as if by fate, with copyright law that denied our collective identity? Are we to blame when, with no strategic way to bypass it, we had few options but to break the law?


While the answers to these questions are elusive, our problems remain solvable. Our solutions, however, require compromise. My generation must now assume responsibility for its actions. We need to work hand in hand with lawmakers to strike a balance in which copyright law protects existing intellectual property, but doesn’t stifle the creation of future intangible assets.

We need artists working with us. We need them to make their work more available and recognize the artistic value in doing so. Those artists audacious enough to embrace piracy culture will likely expand their outreach and impact larger audiences of consumers and co-creators alike.


Counterintuitive indeed, artists are already cashing in on free music distribution. A new generation of rappers is building revenue streams around the creation of free digital content. J. Cole, Wale and Mac Miller, to name a few, are well known for attracting fan bases with complementary mixtapes and eventually converting their fans into paying customers.


Most recently, rap newcomer Lil Dicky made headlines when he released a barrage of32 independently-produced songs, entirely free of charge. In the process, he harnessed the support of a YouTube army. He’s now selling out concerts withSchoolboy Q and Ludacris.


For Generation Y, these developments have profound implications. Our approach to reframing copyright law within the context of the ever-changing digital era must be predicated on the principles of creativity and collaboration. So long as Generation Y accepts that artists deserve adequate compensation for their labor, and the artists themselves uncage their creativity, we will together push forward the frontier of innovation. Together, we will determine the future of intellectual property in this country.




1. When it comes to developing mobile applications, no design method is easier or more cost-effective than paper-based prototyping. When you’re working with paper, you’re free to make conceptual modifications to your design without suffering the economic burden traditionally associated with app development. Paper-based prototyping lends you the economic flexibility to pivot, or change directions, with ease.


2. Moreover, paper-based prototyping facilitates positive team interaction. As opposed to programming, which requires technical expertise, paper-based prototyping is relatively unintimidating. It’s approachable to most members of the development team and therefore, levels the technical playing field.


3. Paper-based prototypes are also, to their advantage, unpolished and unimposing. Users generally feel more comfortable criticizing them than they do mock-ups constructed of more costly materials. If nothing else, paper-based prototyping proves ideal for incorporating user feedback into the design process.


As you navigate the process of app development, consider the following lessons:


A) Learn to conquer your perfectionism. Too often, developers seek refinement in their prototypes. They feel pressured to present end users with aesthetically appealing mock-ups. But these same developers have forgotten an important rule to product design. The prototype’s appearance is irrelevant – at least initially. It’s imperative, prior to commercialization, to observe how users interact with your app in its most basic form.


B) Test your prototypes rigorously with end users. Before squandering additional resources on the development of an app that nobody wants to buy, scrutinize your mock-ups along two dimensions: usability and desirability. Usability testing assesses how well users interact with your app. Desirability testing, on the other hand, measures how effectively your app meets user needs. This double-pronged evaluation will help you determine the commercial viability of your app early on in the development process.


C) Always keep your eye on the prize. Remember, it doesn’t matter how cool your app concepts are, or how polished your prototypes look. What matters is that customers understand how your app works, and more importantly, that they’re willing to purchase it. Otherwise, all you have is quirky ideas and no means by which to pay the bills.




1. Social media lends us the resources necessary to manipulate our self-images. It provides us with cyber stages on which to perform new roles and shed old skin. It offers us a medium through which to transmit specific information that emphasizes our redeeming qualities, while concealing our character flaws. Empowering as it is, though, social media has become a place of perpetual and, at times, meaningless return.


2. We wander through social media for hours on end before accepting that we’re lost. We compulsively refresh newsfeeds, desperate for news worth celebrating. We pathologically log in and log out of private accounts, only to log in again, and again, and again, until our bony fingers ache.


3. Like Christopher Columbus and his motley crew, we travel the socially connected Web in search of answers, but never find quite what we’re looking for. Distracted by the black depth of digital content, we drift on, from site to site, neglecting to notice the ceaselessness of our odyssey.


4. As Westerners, we customarily relate to our world in linear terms. We anticipate conclusions to voyages. We expect plots to evolve and protagonists to change.


5. But social media is proving incompatible with our linear worldview. Our online experience no longer resembles the finite story with which we’re familiar.


6. In a given Facebook session, too much happens for one to remember, and so, in a way, nothing happens at all. Events intersect but don’t progress. People connect but don’t make contact.


7. And that’s okay. Our relationship with social media is complicated and ever-changing. It’s balanced by contradictions pulling incessantly in opposite directions.


8. From a cultural studies perspective, social media is nothing short of a miracle. It’s opening exciting new windows through which to investigate human interaction. More than that, it’s informing, entertaining, and uniting individuals across geographical boundaries. It’s fostering real community bonds.


9. So there’s a flipside to social media. On the surface, it’s artificial. That is to say, only the information that we want to share via social media becomes public knowledge. But that fact is profound in itself. It means that every TED talk we post speaks volumes about our values. Every cat meme we retweet reveals insights into our minds.


10. The problem then, is not social media. And it’s not the content itself. It’s our animalistic inability to control ourselves. It’s the rate at which we’re binge-drinking content through the beer bong that we all call social media.


The choice is now ours to make:


a) We could ignore the rapidly changing technology environment, or we could adapt to it.


b) We could deny the addictive qualities of social media, or we could acknowledge our psychological dependence on them.


c) We could lose ourselves in digital content, or we could get lost in a conversation.


d) We could Instagram the sunset, or we could disconnect and explore the natural world.


e) We could abandon social media altogether, or we could embrace, in moderation, the interactive processes that it facilitates.


f) We could cling to the impracticality of our linear worldview, or we could adopt a cyclical one.


g) For how else can we find meaning in a digital world in which there’s no final destination and no objective to achieve?