This was originally written on Hatch — the internal version of Medium for Medium employees. (See Hatching Inside Medium for more context.)

Explaining Medium to Senior Citizens

Technology may be geared toward the young, but it’s not lost on the old, either. Or at least, not on a group of senior citizens at Sagewood, a retirement community in Phoenix where Zach’s 93-year-old grandmother lives.

About six months ago, Sagewood’s event committee invited Zach to give a talk about online news to the residents. He suggested that since his wife also works in the industry, perhaps we could do it together. The organizers called the talk, on Oct. 5, “Impact of Press & TV on Society,” but we just figured we’d talk about the internet.

This was the actual talk we gave.

They set us up in the aerobics room and told us to expect a full house, even though we were counter-programmed against a Cole Porter music appreciation class. (Sagewood has about 400 residents.)

This was half the room.

We ended up talking to about 100 people. Zach prepared a Keynote with slides of graphs and charts that tracked how millennials get their news, the decline of newspapers and online advertising, and the rise of smartphone usage and Facebook.

We started with a “body poll” about how they get their news: TV, radio, print, online. About half to two thirds claimed to get news online, on phones or tablets, though TV and print were by far the most popular. We referred to the internet in ways to which everyone was likely to relate, like downloading ebooks, reading local news, or using Facebook to keep track of family, and talked about the differences between Quartz as a news site and Medium as a platform.

When it came time for a Q&A, they asked fantastic questions –– the first being, naturally, about how both of our sites make money. There were multiple questions for me about whether we fact-check or review all of our content, if we have problems with identity fraud, and how content gets distributed and discovered — the same questions that many other people ask.

The room got hot, but we managed to keep most people awake (except for C.C., the corgi, who slept for the duration). And afterward, the event committee treated us to a really fun dinner.

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