Teens' lives are entirely built around their actual friends. Quite simply, why would teenagers bother using Twitter when Facebook exists, and offers so much more? Teens want a platform that allows easy, fully-functional communication to an exclusive social circle. That is, solely to their friends and peers. Twitter is a platform built for inclusive broadcast (to everyone), and to teenagers it offers no obvious value.
But what Mr. Lanier is missing is the sheer fun of a lot of social-media interaction and the way it has brought non-geeks into the computer world. As I look at the social Web that he finds sterile and overly corporatized, I see Tea Party activists, "caveman diet" enthusiasts and model-rocketry devotees—among countless others—coming together and finding ways to collaborate, organize and socialize as never before. I see individuals and small groups acquiring creative power and the sort of organizational reach that only large companies or governments once had. Ordinary Americans are experiencing the same kind of buzz and excitement that used to be known only to the "digerati" elite in the halcyon days of the early 1990s.
Youthful fascination with collectivism is in part simply a way to address perceived "unfairness." If everyone shares, then a young person arriving on the scene fresh will not have less than an older person who has been around for a while.
This is all harmless enough, but the pattern can be manipulated in dangerous ways. I don't want our young people aggregated, even by a benevolent social-networking site. I want them to develop as fierce individuals, and to earn their living doing exactly that. When they work together, I hope they'll do so in competitive, genuinely distinct teams so that they can get honest feedback and create big-time innovations that earn royalties, instead of spending all their time on crowd-pleasing gambits to seek kudos. This is not just so that they and their children will thrive, but so that they won't become a mob, which, as history has shown us again and again, is a vulnerability of human nature.
“Of course, good teaching is always going to be crucial, as is the mastering of formal academic prose. But it’s also becoming clear that online media are pushing literacy into cool directions. The brevity of texting and status updating teaches young people to deploy haiku-like concision. At the same time, the proliferation of new forms of online pop-cultural exegesis—from sprawling TV-show recaps to 15,000-word videogame walkthroughs—has given them a chance to write enormously long and complex pieces of prose, often while working collaboratively with others.
We think of writing as either good or bad. What today’s young people know is that knowing who you’re writing for and why you’re writing might be the most crucial factor of all.”
Explaining that this type of writing is valuable is the hard part.
Very good and worth a watch (as Alec points out)