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Innovator decodes new tech generation in USF lecture

Omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence are qualities that in the past were typically only spoken of in reference to a deity.

But today, said academic and innovator Don Marinelli, the newest generation has all these powers at their fingertips with technology. Search engines, constant connectivity, and virtual realities make

Don Marinelli

Marinelli spoke about why today's teenagers are the way they are in a presentation titled "The triumph of the 21st Century digital natives" that touched on the ways the sports and entertainment industries have adapted to the changing needs of their audiences. His lecture was the third in the second annual USF Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series, hosted by the USF Sport & Entertainment Management Program, FOX Sports Florida, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"My entire life, I've been really interested in young people," Marinelli said. "I believe they are the first truly unique species of human being that we have encountered."

Marnelli is the author of The Comet and the Tornado, which reflects on his friendship and working partnership with "The Last Lecture" creator Randy Pausch. Marinelli retired from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012 after a career that spanned 31 years and included his co-founding with Pausch of the Entertainment Technology Center, known worldwide as the "Dream Fulfillment Factory." In addition, Marinelli helped create masters programs in arts management, acting, and entertainment technology during his time at the university.

In his talk in the Marshall Center Oval Theater, Marinelli addressed the changing forms of entertainment, with gaming now a larger industry than Hollywood, and the reinvention of stadiums in sports to have more interaction with the audience.

The most fascinating possibilities are for the upcoming "plural" generation, which Marinelli described as "whole-brain thinkers" and "individuals for whom the arts are as natural as technology. This is the generation that will truly realize the promise of the Entertainment Technology Center, he said, which Marinelli and Pausch founded thinking it would be a way to bring right- and left-brain thinkers together. They quickly realized that today's thinkers see both sides.

It's important for brands to realize that today's generation of young people sees technology as a portal to vast realities, he said, and to design interactive technologies accordingly.

"Technology is not the end in itself," he said.