Different Generations, Different Stories
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Filed under Irony

Just an innocent conversation with a twenty something. His enthusiasm met by my glazed over incredulity. His subject, a new smart phone app that uses GPS signals from other phones to allow people to know when they were in the same neighborhood and how “totally” cool it would be to hook up with friends using GPS. When he finished, I asked if he thought people would actually pay for this service. I could not summarize the difference in two generations any better than his notion of a “totally cool app” because I cannot fathom why any one would pay some one else to track their comings and goings so that the data set could be used for marketing intelligence or just turn it over to a secret NSA subpoena.

Science fiction from 1984 to The Matrix shows a culture that has been beaten down by oppressive control of information, but always independence has been taken by meglomaniacal overlords. The iPhone (click the image to get the true meaning of irony) generation wants to build their own apps to voluntarily pay to turn that control over to anyone, no evil overlord needed. How could it happen that the sixties generation with their distrust of corporations, the military and bureaucrats could raise a generation seemingly without the ability to be suspicious? Somehow, we forgot to tell the stories of how bad guys use information to hurt the good guys, or as they said in WWII, loose lips sink ships.

This week, I read a comment on a blog that asked if anyone really used browser bookmarks any more and wondered if there was not a better cloud based app for storing your bookmarks than Delicious. Again, my generational bias, driven by the stories of military industrial complex greed and unchecked power, took several minutes of deep breathing exercises to control the panic attack and consider the innocence involved in such a statement. The irony of having a generation who gladly turn over the data to any server farm but fret about the perverts who might be lurking online to corrupt their children further points to the different set of stories that provide meaning for different generations.

In thinking about Story Chip and how we can use this web based vehicle, we frequently bang into the brick walls that separate independent information and cloud based information. We creep up to the edge of the cloud before once again pulling back in horror of the data set abuse that goes on. So, we suffer from the stories that are our cultural bedrock by acknowledging that either Ken Kesey or Jerry Garcia said, “The 60's ain't over til the fat lady gets high.” I am fairly certain that it was Kesey who pointed out, “The frontiers we broke into in the '60s are still largely unexplored.” This is the spirit that separates the experiences of a generation and pulls the editors of Story Chip away from the social media cloud.

One of those frontiers Kesey referred to was understanding and using information. The Internet can be the canoe that takes us on the exploratory journey into putting control of information into the hands of the people who create the data. At Story Chip, we are working on a website that will create data sets controlled by the users, for their purposes. Imagine a web site that encourages sharing information to benefit the users. Sounds a little like 60's style communal living. More about the website in the next post.

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