Lord Saatchi the other day described people under the age of 25 as Net Natives and people over that age as Net Immigrants. He didn’t mention the third category of Net Pioneers which is how I’d describe myself, though I was a pioneer who arrived on the East Coast and settled down to a douce and limited life in New England in the 18th century, rather than a pioneer who went shooting and whoring their way out West in the late 19th. I should probably abandon this metaphor while I still can.
What interests me is the quality of ideas which the Net Natives have. I’ve been lagging behind the netgeist, sitting in a rocker on my virtual front porch making quilts and admiring my picket fence, so it was a week or so ago that I became aware of Alex Tew’s Million Dollar Homepage which is genius, what used to be called a killer app (remember them?) and is an idea that could only exist online. Oddly enough, on the same day I heard about Sandi Thom‘s arrival as a Punk Rocker with Flowers in her Hair; Sandi web-enabled the idea of let’s put the show on right here in the barn in a way which was of orders of magnitude more effective more quickly than anything Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland ever did. Only yesterday I read about Kyle Macdonald’s One Red Paperclip. Macdonald, like Thom, takes a real-world idea and transforms it online. The pages I’ve linked to explain their stories.
These are the ideas of people who feel instinctively that the web is a place of boundless possibilities. None of them got rich quick, all three worked extremely hard for their suppers. But they fundamentally get the Internet. I had been going to say they understand how the Internet is qualitatively different from what came before, but I am not sure that they do. I suspect that they can no more imagine what it was like before the Internet, than I can imagine what it was like before electricity.