The Generation M Manifesto

Generally when I see a great post, I make a point to link to it.   But in the case of the below post by Umair Haque from the Harvard Business Blog, I wanted to repost the entire thing because I think it is that good.  So full credit for the post goes to Umair and please do visit the original post.

Dear Old People Who Run the World,

My generation would like to break up with you.

Everyday, I see a widening gap in how you and we understand the world – and what we want from it. I think we have irreconcilable differences.

You wanted big, fat, lazy “business.” We want small, responsive, micro-scale commerce.

You turned politics into a dirty word. We want authentic, deep democracy – everywhere.

You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people – not just banks.

You wanted shareholder value – built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

You wanted an invisible hand – it became a digital hand. Today’s markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

You wanted growth – faster. We want to slow down – so we can become better.

You didn’t care which communities were capsized, or which lives were sunk. We want a rising tide that lifts all boats.

You wanted to biggie size life: McMansions, Hummers, and McFood. We want to humanize life.

You wanted exurbs, sprawl, and gated anti-communities. We want a society built on authentic community.

You wanted more money, credit and leverage – to consume ravenously. We want to be great at doing stuff that matters.

You sacrificed the meaningful for the material: you sold out the very things that made us great for trivial gewgaws, trinkets, and gadgets. We’re not for sale: we’re learning to once again do what is meaningful.

There’s a tectonic shift rocking the social, political, and economic landscape. The last two points above are what express it most concisely. I hate labels, but I’m going to employ a flawed, imperfect one: Generation “M.”

What do the “M”s in Generation M stand for? The first is for a movement. It’s a little bit about age – but mostly about a growing number of people who are acting very differently. They are doing meaningful stuff that matters the most. Those are the second, third, and fourth “M”s.

Gen M is about passion, responsibility, authenticity, and challenging yesterday’s way of everything. Everywhere I look, I see an explosion of Gen M businesses, NGOs, open-source communities, local initiatives, government. Who’s Gen M? Obama, kind of. Larry and Sergey. The Threadless, Etsy, and Flickr guys. Ev, Biz and the Twitter crew. Tehran 2.0. The folks at Kiva, Talking Points Memo, and FindtheFarmer. Shigeru Miyamoto, Steve Jobs, Muhammad Yunus, and Jeff Sachs are like the grandpas of Gen M. There are tons where these innovators came from.

Gen M isn’t just kind of awesome – it’s vitally necessary. Why?

The crisis isn’t going away, changing, or “morphing.” It’s the same old crisis – and it’s growing.

You’ve failed to recognize it for what it really is. It is, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, in our institutions: the rules by which our economy is organized.

But they’re your institutions, not ours. You made them – and they’re broken. Here’s what I mean:

“… For example, the auto industry has cut back production so far that inventories have begun to shrink – even in the face of historically weak demand for motor vehicles. As the economy stabilizes, just slowing the pace of this inventory shrinkage will boost gross domestic product, or GDP, which is the nation’s total output of goods and services.”

Clearing the backlog of SUVs built on 30-year-old technology is going to pump up GDP? So what? There couldn’t be a clearer example of why GDP is a totally flawed concept, an obsolete institution. We don’t need more land yachts clogging our roads: we need a 21st Century auto industry.

I was (kind of) kidding about seceding before. Here’s what it looks like to me: every generation has a challenge, and this, I think, is ours. It’s Gen M’s job to foot the bill for your profligacy – and create, instead, an authentically, sustainably shared prosperity.


Umair and the Edge Economy Community

Microsoft makes a bold move to understand direction of social networks with their latest new hire

Danah Boyd

It seems to be Microsoft day here on Hard Knox Life, but they just made a key new hire that should be getting a lot more attention than it is.  According to the folks at ReadWriteWeb, Microsoft Research has hired danah boyd, who is probably the most famous academic in the world focused on youth and social networks.  As RWW points out, the hire is important because “If Microsoft is going to be relevant to the next generation of computer users, who better to pay attention to than the leading expert on how the next generation is using social networks?

danah hit the radar of most folks when she published that kids were moving from MySpace to Facebook.  As danah wrote somewhat controversially in her research:

“The goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other ‘good’ kids are now going to Facebook. …MySpace is still home for Latino/Hispanic teens, immigrant teens, ‘burnouts,’ ‘alternative kids,’ ‘art fags,’ punks, emos, goths, gangstas, queer kids, and other kids who didn’t play into the dominant high school popularity paradigm.”

I have been following danah’s work for quite some time, largely thanks to the frequent coverage she gets on Ypulse.  She is truly one of the sharpest minds in understanding youth and how their use of social technology will transform culture and business.  It is going to be really exciting to see the impact danah makes at shaping the future vision of Microsoft and their view of the social web.

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You might be surprised where Gen Y is hanging out online

If someone asked you the #1 website for teens, my guess would be that you’d answer one of the top social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook.  Same goes for the twenty-something set.  Well if so, the most recent TRU Study would have proved you wrong.  I was pretty surprised to see YouTube #1 with 8 of 10 Teens visiting in the last 30 days…beating out both MySpace at #4 (56%) and Facebook at #7 (42%).  A few other things that caught my eye:

  • 50% of Teens and 56% of Twenty-somethings visited Wikipedia in the past 30 days.  I think that answers the question of what Geny Y views as “credible” information.
  • eBay makes the top 6 on both lists and is the #1 “commerce” site for Gen Y.
  • Yahoo is #3 on both lists.  They have been getting slammed recently and basically discounted as irrelevant by some in the press.  My guess would be the high ranking of Yahoo is thanks to their Web 2.0 plays like Flickr, and MyBlogLog…not their base portal or search (except maybe Yahoo Mail).

TRU July 2008 Most Visited Websites

Don’t fight pirates, learn from them

I have been meaning to read Matt Mason’s The Pirate’s Dilemma for some time now.  I finally got around to it this past weekend and the wait was well worth it.

“The Pirate’s Dilemma tells the story of how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works. It offers understanding and insight for a time when piracy is just another business model, the remix is our most powerful marketing tool and anyone with a computer is capable of reaching more people than a multi-national corporation.”

What makes this book so unique is that it combines lessons on business, marketing, culture, youth, and music into one.  All in all, it creates a read that is not only entertaining but also informative.  Here are just a few of the quotes/parts I found most interesting:

  • For more than a hundred years, capitalists have been marketing youth culture back to people, attaching cultural significance to goods and services through advertising.
  • This is the story of how pirates might save this sinking ship. Often pirates are the first to feel the winds of change blowing. The answer to the Pirate’s Dilemma lies in the stories of pirates sailing into waters uncharted by society and the markets, spaces where traditional rules don’t apply. The answers lie in the history of youth culture.
  • “Today the most disruptive voices are no longer the artists’ voices being piped over the corporate airwaves,” Marc Ecko told Royal magazine in 2006. “It’s the voice of the pirate, the pirate has become the producer. The indy-punk ‘f the man’ message is no longer a hook in a song. It’s scary. It’s hungry. It’s Godzilla. He’s knocking on the door uninvited, ready for dessert.”
  • Graffiti is the blowback from centuries of advertising and the privatization of common spaces, which has armed corporations with new branding tools as much as it encouraged people to counteract these intrusions.
  • Successful pirates adapt quickly to social and technological changes, but this is true of all entrepreneurs. What pirates do differently is create new spaces where different ideas and methods run the show.
  • Web 2.0 is all about the pirate mentality.

I highly encourage you to pick up the book yourself, either by purchasing it online or downloading it. 

Do you know What Teens Want?

At BrandWeek’s “What Teens Want” Conference, my friend Tina Wells from Buzz Marketing Group just did a great presentation on teen trends.  In the presentation she covers what’s hot in music and technology, while also giving a comparison on why The Hills is performing better than Gossip Girls with teens.  Most interesting to me were the 6 key teen trends she highlighted including:

  • Wharholism: Teens & their 15 minutes of fame
  • Massclusivity: Teens want exclusive products designed for the masses
  • Technoholics: Youth thrive off new technology
  • Global Mobiles: Teens are globally connected, while the world is big & portable
  • Insta-Messengers:  Teens consumer content instaneously and want immediate communication
  • Transculturism: Merging and converging of cultures