Sitting here in the Halcyon coffee shop in downtown Austin, TX with a bunch of other haggard (but happy) Southies, the initial reaction to this year's interactive conference is one of optimism and reassurance. Optimism in the sense that normal everyday folk are doing some amazing work in empowering everyday people on the internet. Reassurance in the sense that there IS so much creative lift within this community of developers, designers, coders, programmers, e-theroists, organizers and entepreneurs.
Bruce Sterling, one of the foremost social comentator bloggers and sci-fi writers of our time, closed out the 4 day event with a wonderful speech around the power of the human experience. I left his talk with a real sense of "We Can..." (those of you who are Deanaics out there will have horrible flashbacks to a certain song that bore its ugly head when "on hold"). I realized that we were the transition generation (as my buddy Stan notes, "we're all a part of transition generation!") from an offline world to an online world. Sterling defines past generations as "legacy people" who read the newspapers, believe in TV and radio and go into work where they keep their 'work things.' I realized just how free we are as a generation. I can work from home continually, get all my news from NYtimes.com or Salon.com, can talk to my friends via email, text message or instant message, edit webpages and do my writing and journaling on various blogs. Heck, I can buy all my necessary items to live online and have them delivered to my door. But this is all old information. What Sterling is talking about is how this generation will handle the future. We are a group of people who grew up on the internet. We straddle legacy. Early memories still revolve around big-wheels, barbies and television with only 30 channels. Now, our days are filled with keyboards, texting and walking, gaming and wireless communication. We are the transition generation -- transitioning to an "internet of things" where we can make "reality simple again."
But is this freedom really a facade? Obviously it is. As soon as you lack the power to drive a wireless access point or a computer you lose your "freedom." Sterling is big on the "cradle to cradle" idea and very much embraces the idea of returning to our roots as a human species. Whether that means technology will play a role is still a major question. Where will it lead us?
Sterling is living in Belgrade, Serbia with his wife (also a writer) where one saying rules the day: Make no decision out of fear.