They are the Nisei of cyberspace—the first generation born into a world that has never not known digital life and so never had to adjust to it as the rest of us settlers have. Like all Nisei, they understand the new world in ways their parents never will and speak its language with far more fluency. If you want to understand the past two decades, they are perhaps the perfect subjects. The drumbeat of disruption and technological advance that has defined the past 20 years is their natural rhythm.
I was born in 1949, so the first 20 years of my life spanned a similarly disruptive era. But the forces that molded my generation were political and cultural, not technological. Nothing in my use of vinyl records or radio or the telephone set me apart from people who were born in 1929 or 1909.
That’s an interesting way to put it. I was actually just thinking about that earlier today — so much of what I see in the blogtwitosphere is simply yakking about the media and gadgets we use. The tools themselves. As if achingly banal things are somehow relevant or interesting simply because a social networking site was involved, or because they were facilitated by the current soon-to-be-obsolete gadget. Politically and culturally, things do seem pretty stagnant, so I guess people are eager for any sort of distraction. But it makes me think of an old interview with Eddie Vedder, where he mentions being sick of hearing about young people, and actually looking forward to getting old. I thought that seemed strange when I first read it, but I think I can relate to it now.