Come the next election, the new kids on the block in terms of those who will vote for the first time, will be a generation who have not known what a world without the web is. It was there before they were born, like the sky. Imagine a generation where radio and TV were new and imagine trying to get your head around it while the younger ones figured it out in seconds. This is who we are. The web is here and is already strongly influencing the next generation of voters where they spend more time on Bebo than reading newspapers and listening to the radio. Friending, IMing, knowing exactly the moods and thoughts and intimate photos of their friends is the de rigeur. It is time for our generation to adapt to them, they won’t adapt to us and they seem to be making that obvious more and more.
This new generation doesn’t care about privacy, doesn’t care about the way things were done, they are used to doing less and getting more for it and they don’t carry the fears we still have from mass emmigration and unemployment to what people think of them. This is the generation that doesn’t care if they lose their Bebo password, they’ll just create a new profile and start again, they don’t really care about losing their mobile or changing number, they’ll simply use the knowledge of the group to get back most numbers. Their own lives seem to be structured like the net, if one node with information goes down (i.e. lose a mobile) the rest of the Net will keep going and they can restore from that. Fascinating to see and I doubt many people can figure out how this works, nevermind those in the political environment.
We saw what a total bag o’crap Rock The Vote was and we saw that voter turnout is still appalling despite old wrinkly people trying to lecture people using YouTube. We need people like Danah Boyd over here, we need anthropologists and sociologists to come onto the web and mix with the digital kids and figure out how to energise them and get them interested in the political and democratic system over here. Nuke all the childish “Yoof” wings of the parties to start with. They’re a new generation trying to be the old generation and already serverely disconnected from what their own generation want and are interested in and they grow more disconnected each day they live the youth wing life. They are mini-me versions of the existing people we all despise.
Perhaps people should figure out how to turn the influence experienced in small tech communities on Twitter and other areas into every day life, where people will trust the judgement of others and listen to their breakdowns of party policies. If 20 people buy nokia tablets because of one or two people, can that be transferred into having party neutral “analysts” that others can tune into too? Can a local politician use their blog to engage more and more and build up a following there that they couldn’t using traditional media? And then turn that readership into leaders of small cells of people that can assert strong influence on voters? Pyramid scheme politics?
I’m not sure what exactly will be the way to do it, but the way politics is done will have to change because even if the existing parties fight for the status quo, someone will come along and tap into the new generation and the disaffected and suddenly they’re a powerhouse.
See, even babies can use the iPhone: