those darn kids

Arts and Letters Daily has a link to a fun article in New York magazine which talks about 'the internet generation'. On one level, I mock, as I do all of those 'this generation is all about X' articles. On the other hand, it does seem to address some valid points: it asserts that one's online persona involves speaking to an audience, and that this is a native form of communication for kids now. (Obviously, I would assert it's a native form of communication for netizens, but I see why they would differentiate someone who grows up with this paradigm). The article also says that this new generation is keeping a better record of their youth. I disagree, but I thought one paragraph interesting:

Oppermann is not the only one squirreling away an archive of her adolescence, accidentally or on purpose. "I have a logger program that can show me drafts of a paper I wrote three years ago," explains Melissa Mooneyham, a graduate of Hunter College. "And if someone says something in instant message, then later on, if you have an argument, you can say, 'No, wait: You said this on this day at this time.'"
It reminds me of a wonderful book I read called The Light Of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter, in which time travel is not possible, but viewing other points in time is. The book then explores this idea of the total loss of privacy, and the total accurate recall of anything that has ever happened.

The article has a little bit of that 'deer-in-headlights' look about it, and a little bit of 'well, duh!', but its heart seems to be in the right place:

The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. Itís creative. Itís where their friends are. Itís theater, but itís also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama ("you know who you are!"), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?
I'm pretty sure I know where I live, even as I revel in my inner Luddite.
Heidi commented:
if by "keeping a better record of their youth" they mean "keeping a totally different record of their youth" I'd say they'd be right. Digital files prompt you to keep an entirely mish-mashy weird group of things permanently suspended on your hard drive and on the internet (sometimes out of your control). It's a far cry from prom corsages.
on Fri Feb 23 11:09:46 2007

Andrew commented:
I was a little confused about you luddite reference until i read the article. Being from the cusp of the change described, it has been interesting to watch people younger than me. There is a definite difference in attitude even in people 3-4 years younger than me. On the one hand, I've long been a member of the online community, I built my first web-page (and had a small business doing so) in high-school. On the other hand, i generally work hard to try to keep a certain anonymity in my online life. My comments here are actually one of the only forums where i use my actual name instead of one of several pseudonyms. And, for whatever reason, in the last several years, I've detached from many of my old online communities until my current one is made up primarily of those i keep in contact with via old communication methods as well. So, in that light, your inner luddite becomes a lot clearer.
on Fri Feb 23 12:00:58 2007

David commented:
Yeah - I always feel a little funny about how exposed I am on the intarwebs, what with posting all kinds of personal information on this website. I have made very little effort not to be found, generically (look for 'odoketa' and you get nothing but me), but on the other hand I never talk about work, and I generically guard certain pieces of info fiercely (e.g. my SSN). But that's also part of the knowledge that you're speaking to an online forum, which I think everyone as 'on the net' as we are knows instinctively (regardless of their age).
on Fri Feb 23 12:33:14 2007

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