Posts about creationgeneration

Tomorrow belongs to them

As I was writing my first book, What Would Google Do?, I thought I knew what my second would be – about the profound changes in culture, worldview, attitude, aptitude, impact of young people today, a group I believe will prove to be an extraordinary generation – Generation G, I call them in the book. But almost as soon as I thought that, ambitious and important books on the topic came out from people I respect. So I’ll recommend them instead.

Don Tapscott, coauthor of Wikinomics, wrote Grown Up Digital, which I believe will be seen as the seminal work on the net generation. It is the product of $4 million worth of research including 10,000 interviews in many countries, producing a treasure trove of data about behavior and beliefs.

Importantly, Tapscott, like the other authors here, debunks the shallow assumptions made about this generation – that they are unsocial or antisocial, stupefied and stupid, exhibitionistic and narcissistic and uncaring. Instead, at the start, he writes:

The story the emerges from the research is an inspiring one, and it should bring us all great hope. As the first global generation ever, the Net Geners are smarter, quicker, and more tolerant of diversity than their predecessors. They care strongly about justice and the problems faced by their society and are typically engaged in some kind of civic activity at school, at work, or in their communities. Recently in the United States, hundreds of thousands of them have been inspired by Barack Obama’s run for the presidency and have gotten involved in politics for the first time. This generation is engaging politically and sees democracy and government as key tools for improving the world….

Eight characteristics, or norms, describe the typical Net Gener and differentiate them from their boomer parents. They prize freedom and freedom of choice. They want to customize things, make them their own. they’re natural collaborators, who enjoy a conversation, not a lecture. They’ll scrutinize you and your organization. They insist on integrity. They want to have fun, even at work and at school. Speed is mornal. Innovation is part of life.

Such insights continue regarding the generation and work, commerce, family, and democracy.

I believe – but won’t live to know – that this generation will prove to be as remarkable in its way – and for very different reasons – as the World War II generation was. This, too, could be a generation that builds through change and Tapscott’s book gives us a window into their culture and its impact.

I’m equally heartened by Mimi Ito’s Digital Youth Project report for the MacArthur Foundation. It, too, defends youth against common slanders. Youth, it says, “use online media to extend friendships and interests… and engage in peer-based, self-directed learning online.” In short: Digital is good and adults should encourage and enable youth to be digital and benefit from it.

Next I plan to dig into Born Digital by the amazing John Palfrey of Harvard’s Berkman Center and Urs Gasser. And then: The Pirate’s Dilemma – How youth culture is reinventing capitalism by Matt Mason.

At the end of my book, I say of this generation:

My generation, the children of the 1960s, prided itself on nonconformity but our nonconformity became conformist. I fear it was a fashion. Some worry that Generation G’s nonconformity and individualism will be entitled rather than empowered, alone more than social, entertained more than educated. Any of that and worse could be true. But I have faith in this generation because, far earlier than their elders—my peers—did in their lives, today’s young people have taken leadership, contributed to society and the economy, and created greatness: great technology, great companies, great thinking.

That’s my boy

My son, Jake, and I were chatting about the Facebook Platform in my home office the other night. He was sitting on the couch with his laptop; I was at my desk writing on mine. This is what passes for paternal bonding in bloggers’ homes. Little did I know what he was working on: With the ease with which I would doodle, he was coding up a Facebook ap for Last FM, which promptly got written up by Michael Arrington in TechCrunch, making a larger point that LastFM isn’t delivering aps but its users are. And last night, he coded up a Meebo Facebook ap. By the way, the LastFM ap has 2,000 users but it hasn’t been officially approved by Facebook. Wazzup?

At the same time, Jake has redesigned his Middio application, a search engine for music videos on YouTube. Do go check it out. Soon he’ll be adding a commercial element and I’ll tell you that story.

The creation generation, indeed.

/father bragging.

Jake’s new venture: The creation generation

Pardon the proud dad moment while I brag about my 15-year-old son, Jake‘s, new online venture:, a search engine and player for music videos on YouTube. Jake found the quality of search there lacking, so he scraped data about the videos posted by official, legal music labels and made a search engine out of that, adding a random video feature and a top 100 list and the ability to share the video on your Facebook page. He links directly to the video’s page on YouTube and to the music lablels’ sites.

Pretty damned cool, huh?


Middio was written up with a good review — whew! — on TechCrunch and Michael Arrington didn’t even know until I told him that it came from my kin. Then it was written up on Wired. Jake politely shot down this snarky review and got an apology. Webware gets the value of it: “In other words, you’re less likely to find videos of teenagers lip syncing the song you’re looking for.”

I have a bigger point to make about this but first let me tell you about Jake’s other latest creation — continuing my proud dad moment. Jake — who truly is my webmaster and tech teacher — told me about, which lets any of us become Justin.TV and broadcast live via an embeddable player; I was arguing that live is the next trend to overtake online video. When I looked at UStream’s blog, I read this:

On the Shoulders of Giants
We’ve been incredibly happy with the reception we’ve gotten from the true pioneers of the blogosphere. Scoble, Pirillo, Jarvis, Pulver-that’s the kind of company we like to keep. But this is special.

I thought, all too egotistically, that that was me and that puzzled me since I’d only just heard of UStream. But following the link, I found that Jake had mashed up something else new:, which he tried and has since taken down. It promised to show you high-school life through the back of a student’s backpack. Jake hooked up a laptop with a video camera and a high-speed cellular modem and set to broadcast through the back of his backback via UStream. He did it for a few hours and it worked.

When I saw this, I was overtaken with a both parental pride and parental dread. I was amazed at what he’d built — but also scared to death that he’d get expelled from school for combining all the things that scare principals everywhere: technology, the internet, cell phones, and cameras.

Jake didn’t quite understand why I was so amazed and proud and it rather embarrassed him. That is to say, we’re a normal father-and-son.

Now here’s the bigger point: Jake doesn’t think twice about making things like this (he has made other things, including this very blog). And I think that’s an important characteristic of his generation: They take the tools available and make things, whether that’s a blog or a video or a web page or an application. The more tools there are, the more things they’ll make. There is no end to it. They don’t consume. They make.

This is the creation generation.