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The "Say Everything Generation"? Old hat…

Picking through my list of favorite bloggers this morning, I came across Jeff Pulver’s Understanding the Say Everything Generation, which is commentary on a New York Times feature from February 12, titled Say Everything.  The gist?  Today’s kids are different — uninhibited in what they say and do online, they’re forging a new kind of relationship reality that recognizes we have no privacy, and embraces openness on a scale never before seen.

Meh…. it makes good journalism, but I’m not sure that it’s really true.  Yes, with MySpace and the like, it’s happening on a scale which has never been seen before but doesn’t anyone remember:

  • The usenet? Mid 1980’s.  You could regularly find people discussing their personal lives, and making friends online in the alt tree.
  • The early text MUDS and MOOS?  I know more than a few people who met online, and got married in meatspace later.
  • The Compuserve boards of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
  • The WELL

And what about the books that were written?  Schuler’s New Community Networks, Whittle’s Cyberspace, Tapscott’s Growing Up Digital, and Rheingold’s Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier are just a few of the books that I can see by swivelling my chair in my office. 

Don’t be misled by the NY Times.  The “Say Everything” generation is a 20 year arc, finally reaching its peak.  It didn’t start yesterday. 

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jay Goldman February 19, 2007, 1:25 pm

    Alec –

    A thought: perhaps the difference is in numbers? There were small communities of mostly geeks in the examples you gave (with the possible exception of CompuShare, though it was still pretty tiny compared to the general population), but the new movement is much, much more broad. It's a generational phenomenon rather than a being limited to a much smaller group. I think maybe it feels like old hat to those of us who have been doing it for years, but it genuinely is news that the "movement" has reached such a broad market.

  • MatthewS February 19, 2007, 10:03 pm

    I married the woman I met on LambdaMOO almost 12 years ago. The "broad" market began with early adoptors like any other consumable.

    This isn't anything new.

  • jules February 20, 2007, 3:15 am

    Hey Alec – thanks for this remembery. I think I blocked out most of the early '90s – and the addiction to MOOs that almost got me kicked out of school 😉 I met the first husband while on usenet, and emailing with pine 😉

    I think you're onto something with the new generation simply being the most recent adoptors of existing, albeit updated collaboration tools.


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