One reason the idea of Open Source
politics should resonate is because of the Internet Generation.
I first heard this phrase used over a
decade ago, when I was just welcoming a hoard of reporters to the
Internet beat (I’d been here a decade, alone). This medium will only
start to take shape after children raised on it come of age, they
That is now starting to happen. My
daughter, who was just 6 when the Web was spun, cast her first vote
last month. She is on the leading edge of this change, because I work in the medium. She assumes Internet connectivity. She assumes broadband.
She spends a lot more time in her room, with her PC, than in front of
She expects interactivity. She expects
to have to do some of her own writing, to make her own contribution.
She doesn’t expect to be entertained. Entertainment to her is not a
one-way experience. She knows that her real life goes on in her own
head, not on the screen.
She is not a techie. But when she heard the Lieberman lie about Lamont’s bloggers hacking his Web site today, she knew right away his campaign manager didn’t know what he was talking about.
Attention all marketers. Robin is your market, not me. Attention all politicians. Robin is the constituent whose loyalty you want, not mine. I’m set. She’s not. And the medium she uses to learn and grow her world is the Internet, not the TV.
This is a stark contrast to the way my
generation was brought up. My generation, the Generation of Nixon,
was raised on TV. We separate people into two camps, instinctively –
those we see on TV and those we don’t. Even local TV celebrities are,
in fact, celebrities to us.
They’re not to my daughter. In fact,
she pities most of those she does see on TV, especially the people on
reality shows and on talk shows. She pities celebrities and considers
most of them stupid.
So how do you reach her? You reach her
by using the values of the Internet. You respect her, you interact
with her, you let her contribute her own thoughts. Transparency,
openness and connectivity aren’t just words to her, but values.
Values she assumes.
Most people my age don’t understand
what I’m saying when I talk about open source values –
transparency, openness and connectivity. But she does. And her
classmates do. And so do their peers.
- Transparency means you can see what’s behind what someone is saying. It means links to sources, and it means someone is behind your site listening.
- Openness means you can visit any competitor, in politics and business, without fear or favor. This is what AT&T wants to toss aside in its short-term greed. It won’t be tossed aside by the Internet Generation — they want their Google.
- Connectivity means you can connect from anywhere, at fast and rising speeds, and always in new ways. It means you can reach people, not just machines.
Members of the Internet Generation don’t understand why government can’t work better based on these values. They sign up for classes online, they even take some of those classes online, they do their research online. This is how government should work as well. And politics. And business.
These are their expectations. Those who fail to meet them will be shunted aside in favor of those who do.