Is the “Wiki” Generation Too Wired For Its Good?
This week we’re partnering with our pals who run the really-worth-your-time blog “VOA Student Union” with this question: what does the Internet generation think about all the wired devices that have come into our lives?
It’s a question we’ve been returning to as we’ve read, and re-read, Ethan Wilkes’ provocative essay “Generation Wiki’s web savvy“, first published in the Guardian on December 14. Spurred by the controversy still swirling around the Wikileaks organization – and to some degree its just-as-controversial co-founder Julian Assange – Wilkes steps into the discussion with a bit of a generational slap-down.
“We are Generation Wiki,” he begins. “We are the first of our kind.”
Wilkes goes on to make a new form of a very old argument: you grown-ups just don’t understand us. The Internet revolution, Wilkes says, and all the devices and changes its spawned have created an entirely different set of expectations of privacy and speech. And it’s those devices that are pushing a new social order – still undefined – where information necessarily runs free:
“We are aware of these ambiguities of the digital age, and we are comfortable with them. They are the products of a networked world where information is in abundance and easily diffused; it is the only world that we have known…What seems to be missing is an understanding of what Generation Wiki has known all along about information gone viral: we consume, comment and move on; the story dies when we are done with it. Trying to put the genie back in the bottle is no way to deal with an expose once it has gone online. “
OK…perhaps. Arguably this generation does have different expectations of the boundaries between public and private. And certainly growing up in an increasingly networked world has changed everyone’s relationship with information – free or otherwise.
But then again, perhaps not. You don’t need to have lived so many decades to know it’s the folly of youth to believe it is somehow unique and new, completely different from what came before and freed from the old strictures. And then, as youth slides into something else, the experiences and shared knowledge of those that came before take on greater resonance.
Pretty heady stuff. All of which has lead both Digital Frontiers and VOA’s Student Union to pose this question: what devices rule your life?
“What technologies rule your life? Do you spend a lot of time on your computer or your mobile phone, and what do you use them for? If you’ve traveled or lived in different countries, how were their tech habits different than your own? What devices do you wish you had, and which could you live without?”
We expect many of the Student Union’s responses will come from “Generation Wiki.” We’re hoping here to hear from everyone – young or old, fresh or experienced, wired or not.