Web Kids' manifesto

Piotr Czerski's manifesto, "We, the Web Kids," originally appeared in a Polish daily newspaper, and has been translated to English and pastebinned. I'm suspicious of generational politics in general, but this is a hell of a piece of writing, even in translation.

Writing this, I am aware that I am abusing the pronoun ‘we’, as our ‘we’ is fluctuating, discontinuous, blurred, according to old categories: temporary. When I say ‘we’, it means ‘many of us’ or ‘some of us’. When I say ‘we are’, it means ‘we often are’. I say ‘we’ only so as to be able to talk about us at all.

1. We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic, as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something - the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of ‘Estonia’, or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high - we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

We, the Web Kids (Thanks, @travpol!)


  1. It’s good to see that kids these days are just as self-important, cocksure, and pretentious as I was, err, we were, err, are.

    You’re still going to have to do homework, kids, so that you aren’t hobbled by having to look up every damn little thing when you need it.

    I trust I don’t need to reemphasize the sanctity of my lawn.

  2. These are very inspiring words. I did not expect such a thing from Poland, but I guess the manifesto is right – the culture is extremely global now.

    1. Why didn’t you expect such a thing from Poland? Have you ever been there? Have you ever known someone from Poland? Have you ever worked with someone from Poland? I do believe that more questions are not even necessary.

    2. I have the same question as above, why did you not expect such a thing (inspiring words, I assume you mean?)  from Poland in particular?

    3. Poland is often unfairly dismissed.

      I’m Canadian, but I did live, work, and marry in Poland, and I’m in no way surprised that this kind of stirring, passionately informed manifesto came from there.

      There is no Polish equivalent, in neither word, nor opinion, nor disposition, for the word “meh”.

        1.  I would say that Poland is, and always was, cutting edge regarding fight for freedoms. Polish constitution is just mere 4 years younger than American, and was in fact the second constitution in the world. Fighting against oppressive government is deeply rooted in polish culture, we do it every 30 years since 1795. Really, no joking. Check it. Solidarity movement was just last accord for this long fight. This is not surprising, that protests against ACTA started in Poland. And this manifesto doesn’t surprise me at all.

          1. I would say that Poland is, and always was, cutting edge regarding fight for freedoms.

            As long as those freedoms are approved by the Catholic Church. Women’s and gay rights? Crickets.

          2. Poland has always been one of the most modern nations of the world, e.g. the Polish “Mors” submachinegun was THE most modern small arm of 1939, and the Polish IT scientist Jacek Karpiński did exactly what Steve Jobs did, except much more succesfuly. Also, Marie Curie was actually Polish.

          3. “As long as those freedoms are approved by the Catholic Church. Women’s and gay rights? Crickets.”
            Um, a great deal louder than crickets, especially in the last decade. Poland isn’t as far behind the rest of the world (looking West) in those issues as you seem to think.  

            Or rather, the rest of the Western world isn’t as far ahead as it should be. We’ve only been a free country for 23 years, what’s everyone else’s excuse?

          4. “Or rather, the rest of the Western world isn’t as far ahead as it should be. We’ve only been a free country for 23 years, what’s everyone else’s excuse?”

            We haven’t been much of a free country regarding e.g. women’s rights (or anything else that the church deems inappropriate) for the last 23 years. Poland is just subordinate to Vatican instead of Moscow. 

            Funny that abortion has been banned in Poland both during Stalin’s reign and during the reign of the Church.

          5. @google-8b0ecb0ffe9a09e81a3dc25b43c1c283:disqus  That’s my whole point, didn’t you notice?  Take the US- they’ve had many decades of NOT being oppressed to sort this women’s rights business out, and yet they are not that much far ahead. I say 23 years, but if you substract the amount of time it reasonably takes to adjust to a new political system and all the fallacies such a change brings, I would say it wasn’t until the late 90s until Poland could start truly catching up to the West. And given all that…we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping up. 

            However, saying we’re subordinate to the Vatican is a gross exaggeration, but  I don’t want to start that conversation here. Especially since judging by the extreme terms you use, I expect it would be a really unpleasant and unproductive one.

            (a poza tym mało kogo innego by to obchodziło :P)

  3. We, the web kids say WTF is a paul mccartney when that geezer shows up on the old skool tv that you dinosaurs are chained to.  we end our sentences with prepositions, like that last one.  we don’t capitalize (sp?) like older non-webbies do!  Punctuation, wat is dat?  If ur still reading this, you are not too old!  COme the zombie apocalypse, we will use our gps and cellphone to find ways to, wait, let me recharge, what?  no power, wtf??

    /just jealous…

  4. Political idealism aside, this sounds about right. I’ve tried over and over to explain how old people just don’t *get* the internet, (present company excluded, of course). It’s something more than being more familiar with a drop down menu than an index, but it’s something less than actually thinking differently, because we’re all still humans. We understand its immensity and inanity like previous generations understood the natures of nations and ecosystems. It surrounds us like a religion. Ha, now I’m blathering.
    In ten years, when the REAL digital natives come of age, we’ll have a much better version of this (or a new social order, same difference).

  5. Weird, I was just writing something similar this morning on lifeinthe21st.com, regarding how we already live in an augmented reality, and that young people today do not think of “the internet” and “the real world” as separate places.

    1. i’m 48. i’ve never thought of the real world and the internet as separate places. actually, i’ve never thought of the internet as a place at all – that was just some nonsense from gibson et al. who needed a metaphor or some language to get at what they were trying to say. the internet is a mechanism to access a vast set of data sources and to communicate with a vast number of people, and it exists in the real world along with telephone wires, beer and bicycles. this notion that they are not different places is somehow supposed to be a big deal?

      1. I think you’re taking it waaaaay too literally.

        Put it this way: is Middle Earth a (fictional) place or is it just a bunch of words and maps printed in books?

          1. It is actually meant to be Pangaea or summat. Which might help explain the presence of New World plants like potatoes and tobacco in pre-Europe. Or not.

  6. It almost puts them at a disadvantage as many I work with have trouble googling anything.  They don’t know about keyword searches, etc. I know I sound like an old fart, but I’m not, I’m an old dick!

  7. Then ‘We’ Who lived without the Web have done you a great disservice.  You will learn this one day, to your great pain. No, I am no Luddite.

  8. There is  no arguing with someone who thinks you’re wrong because you’re “old” and “don’t get it.” Even if you’re right, you’re still “old” and “don’t get it.” It has always been this way, and it always will be.

    1. There is  no arguing with someone who thinks you’re wrong because you’re “kids” and “will understand when you’re older”. Even if you’re right, you’re still “kids” and “will understand when you’re older”. It has always been this way, and it always will be.

      1.  And for one brief, shining, moment, you will be at just the wrong age, derided as too old by some, and too young by others. 

        And even then, no-one will listen to your opinion.

        1.  Apparently this shining moment happens some time in your 30s, as I’m only a few years older than this guy.

  9. Well it’s nice to see the Web Kids have all the answers.  Apparently some things never change, no matter how far in the future we are.

  10. man, sure is a lot of hate in this thread.  I’m 37, but I agree with the kids.  they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding reality minus the internet; but any of y’all think their reality is not factual and you can’t or won’t adapt, then you’re operating with a big handicap.  me?  I’m scrambling to keep up.  how the hell am I having to defend this on BB?

  11. Very poetic, but until ‘We’ know how networking protocols work, so ‘We’ can invent a more efficient or more secure way to transfer information, or how to set up servers and write software to run on them that can respond and send information to other software written by ‘We’, and create our own ad hoc mesh networks not owned by aging monopolistic corporations and to use all these skills together on these free networks, then we’re just posting our lives to our favorite social network du jour, so companies can better sell us things based on how they observe the way we live our lives online. ‘We’ are just giving our data away on an Internet which exists on a network that isn’t our own. Until ‘We’ create an Internet running on a network run only by other ‘We’ then we are still as programmed as any other generation. Sadly most of the ‘We’ generation I encounter, with all the information at their disposal, for now, do not seem to take any interest in learning about the inner workings of what makes this crucial aspect of their reality exist in the first place. Or maybe I am was just getting the ‘We’ generation confused with the  ‘Me’ generation which is already being surpassed…

    1.  ‘You’ could read a newspaper without knowing how to produce and run a printer, organise journalists, run a business. ‘You’ could look something up in an encyclopaedia without knowing how to bind a book or research and citate entire subjects. ‘You’ could make a phone call without ever knowing how the phone network works. ‘You’ could drive a car and  not be able to manufacture one.

      I think you’re confusing ‘being able to use something’ with ‘knowing how to make something work’. This generation of people who not only use the internet, but lives with it, don’t have to know how to make it work.

      But this is not to say ‘We’ don’t. Classing ‘We’ as the hordes of mindless teens who spend all their time on facebook and twitter is silly. It’s like calling all Americans fat and lazy. It may be the stereotype, but behind every stereotype is a majority that don’t fit it.

      And in the same way, many of ‘We’ can do these things. There are many of ‘We’ who have not only grown up with the internet, but have taken an interest in how it works and how to do these things ourselves.

      1. It’s good to see that you are pointing out there are people that have grown up with the internet and have taken an interest in how the technology behind it works. I should clarify that I actually do think the manifesto author is one of them and that I have met people personally who could fit the description of ‘We’ who are interested in how it works. Also, I realize that I was subtly perpetuating a cynical stereotype in my comment, and my real purpose, stated more constructively, would just be to challenge even more people to understand how it actually works and not just be able to use it.

        This is vitally important as the medium for communication becomes more powerful. For instance, if a newspaper’s information falls under control of some power with questionable ethics, I’m confident enough people know how that technology works in order to expose and offset this by printing their own newspapers with their own ink and paper. In the early days of printing, information was controlled to suit the powers in control of the printing technology. I think the internet has reached a point where certain powers may want to try and “put the genie back in the bottle” since it no longer suits their agenda and everyones’ access to all this communication is leased at the whim of a shrinking number of large corporations. My hope is that, like with printing, the more people there are who know how it all works and can create technology to compete with or even make this current paradigm obsolete, then the less likely it is that these powers would succeed in controlling such valuable forms of communication.

  12. Just who is he talking about? I’m a high school teacher and I sure don’t see a lot of expertise in gathering information. When students try to ‘write’ (copy and paste) a science paper they always–or often– fall into some black hole of disinformation from new age health quacks selling magnet wrist bands or from perpetual motion machine freaks, colon irrigationists, etc.

    If there is some piece of information they need to complete homework (perhaps they had taken spotty notes) they almost never think to look it up on the internet. Maybe the students in my school are lazier than most? 

    And no, they don’t know how to use search modifiers. And you can’t tell them anything about that, no sirriee. But they’ll act like experts. 

    Okay, he’s right about one thing: The real world is the internet and the internet is the real world. Is that helpful? I was showing google street view to my physics class (they had never seen it, by the way) and I showed them the view in front of our school. One of the kids said, “Mr., hold on let me run out there so you guys can see me on the screen.” WTF! Half the kids saw why what he said was so absurd and the rest just laughed along not really getting it. 

    And “they don’t need to be specialists” because they can always go ask a specialist? 

    What I do see, and am duly impressed with, is, among some circles, an amazing ability to use twitter to organize. OWS, Arab Spring, etc. I don’t know how to do that shit. Kudos.

    1. I’m now curious as to your locale.  Is it somewhere rural with low web saturation? 

      I’m an X-er steaming headlong into middle age, but I’ve been farting around on web since about ’93.  It’s blowing my mind to read about kids with zero Google-foo.  I expect my peers to be lagging, but not kids.

      1. It’s not a rural thing. What he describes is just as true here in New York. Assuming that exposure to the technology equates to a critical understanding of it or the information it provides access to is very far off base. I’ve had the great displeasure of having to supervise the work of individuals from this age cohort (late teens to mid-twenties), and what I find is an across the board diminishment in technological savvy from people just ten years older. The younger cohort is perfectly comfortable using the technology, but they do not demonstrate terribly effective skills with it. People who grew up with the command line are simply across the board far better at actually working with the machine.

    2. “Maybe the students in my school are lazier than most?” No, no they’re not. Your experiences are dead on and not limited to science classes. What I’ve experienced is not only utter credulity in the so-called web generation, but also the attention span of a hyper-caffeinated gnat in the “web kids.” The most common thing I see is a generic Google search, clicking on the one of the first three links, a quickfind for the word they’re looking for on the site and then copying that particular sentence or paragraph where the find led them (with requisite changing of a few words for a pretense of originality). They won’t even read a PAGE, let alone anything of length, so they don’t notice when the sentence/paragraph that precedes or follows the thing they copied clarifies, muddies or refutes what they thought they were so “efficient” in grabbing. The decontextualization of information through ease of access has led to a generation of pond skimmers, dancing on the surface of a vast pool but never actually getting wet.

      And, yes, this is a gross generalization based on personal experience, but experience across a number of educational formats and a broad range of ages from very young to mid-20s. The trend keeps appearing across the board, worsening the younger the kids are. It’s rather disheartening.

      1. People don’t stop being lazy just because they have better tools. If they have an easy way to do something they don’t care about, they will use it.
        How about trying to find ways of evaluation that can’t be beaten by a lazy Google Search ?

  13. I always feel a little curmudgeonly when I read stuff like this, often directed at the generation that put the web together.  I think those of us who started off programming video games on commodore 64s, fought early slackware distros to put together cheap web servers that utilized our hand-tooled cgi libraries, and then spent the following 20 years working extensively with the internet “get” the internet just as well as the young whippersnappers that grew up obsessed with facebook.  

    A very large number of 30-40 somethings built this thing that you consider yourselves uniquely expert in- dreamed the dreams that brought it to reality, and spent their young adulthood spending more time with the internet than they did their friends and family.  I realize that it is more romantic to imagine the previous generation as clueless luddites, but I suspect that a lot of kids have parents with a much deeper understanding of both the technology and the society of the internet than they do.  It’s romantic to imagine that being born at a certain time makes you special, but don’t imagine that using a web browser at age 6 imparts a deeper understanding of the web to you than that of the people who built that browser, imagined those sites, and carefully observed it all grow.  Hopefully you’ll turn it into something that we have trouble understanding- but you’ve got to pay some dues and actually build something before that happens.

    1. that you consider yourselves uniquely expert in

      Try reading for comprehension next time.  The author isn’t claiming expertise, he’s claiming to be a native.  You and I might understand the technical aspects of the web better than he does, and we may better appreciate the differences between pre-Web and post-Web worlds better than he does.  He’s not claiming otherwise.  He’s saying that he doesn’t have the experience of living in a world without a Web and that this fact makes his perspective on the world different from yours or mine.

      This would be common sense if human beings didn’t pathologically assume that their own experiences and motivations are the default and anyone who sees the world differently is wrong or insane.

  14. [you gotta read this post in your old-timer western voice] Well sit back kiddies, pull out your earbuds and turn up your brain a few notches. Let me tell you a bit about the internet that you don’t know because you were not yet a thought in your mother’s mind. Back then we didn’t have the dubya-dubya-dubya and the HTTP and all the new fangled fanciness you have today. Oh, we had the internet alrighty! But it wasn’t yet what it is today. We had 600 baud modems (that’s a whopping 2,400 bits of data per second. We didn’t have megabytes, gigabytes… petabytes. Oh, to dream!); we had a little application called Gopher; we had usenet groups and BBS systems. Most of our surfing was done in text inside a command shell (think of a black and white or black and green screen). And we thought this was exciting! But after a couple years came new programs– Mosaic and the Netscape browser. And fast as a cat can blink its eye, data transfer speeds began to increase; machines got better; storage increased. Dubya-dubya-dubya, HTTP, and HTML became standard. The internet started getting real pretty, graphical. It got much easier to connect to the internet. You no longer needed three pieces of unreliable software, and you no longer had to wait several minutes to connect while listening to your modem going “banga banga banga…” Flash forward twenty years to today–holy mackerel–we’ve got the internet on phones that are faster and have more storage than our computers back then. We’ve got computers that you can simply turn on and be connected. Small, fast machines. Now go put your jammies on kiddies. 

  15. 30 years old guy calling himself a “kid” and writing about imagined generations. Polish literary tradition at best.

  16. Well, Piotr is 32 years old now, so he is not really the Kid now. However he is Web Kid, probably the very same way you are Web Kids. He was one of the net-art pioneers in Poland more than 10 years ago, and he was the guy who helped us all set up our first webpages, because he knew how to write html back than. He is a writer, but works as a programmer, so he is definitely a right person to talk about how internet works.         

  17. “One more thing: we do not want to pay for our memories.”
    Oh dear Kids… why not?!!! Why not to pay for something that you really want? Only because you can download it in a few secs even if your “memories” are stolen? So if I steal a book or a Snickers or Nike shoes and lay it on your desk, you can just take it because you’re only taking it? Really strange point of view.
    “The films that remind us of our childhood, the music that accompanied us ten years ago: in the external memory network these are simply memories.”
    Don’t forget that those “memories” are often stolen. Sure, it’s not your problem. You only want to download this, you don’t care if this it lawful or not, right?
    “We find online the films that we watched as children and we show them to our children, just as you told us the story about the Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks. Can you imagine that someone could accuse you of breaking the law in this way?”
    Don’t you really see a difference between tolding a story and giving a stolen book with this story to your child? Ridiculous and funny!
    Sir Jenkinson

    1. “Don’t you really see a difference between telling a story and giving a stolen book with this story to your child?”

      Your metaphor is slightly off, it’s more telling a story, vs giving a copy of a book to your child.
      If I steal a book from you, then you no longer have the original book, which would be a bad thing.
      If I borrowed your book and made a copy and then put it back, then you still have your book, and now I do too.  I am, at worst, treating you like a library.

      1. No, sir Jackbird. One tiny detail you miss. You take a book from a library – and you take it back. No copying (unless your’e actually also break the law and copy this book at your xerocopy point). You enrich your heart, your mind, also your memories but not your bookshelf. Can you see the difference?

        Have 5 minutes of your precious time gentlemans and think if your’e an author of book which is read by thousands souls by downloading it from an Internet, is it still fair? You put a lot of energy to write it and now your income doesn’t grow as it could just because some of your potential readers have it without spending a penny. You deserve something more than knowledge that you’re a good author and it is read everyhwere. Or am I wrong?

        Stealing was never so easy as it is nowadays. You don’t have to go to music store and hide a bunch of CDs below your coat. You can just click, go for a coffee and relax with your favorite music… for free.

        Sir Jenkinson

          1. Whoa, that’s an answer Sir Jaroslaw! Young people do like their freedom very much, of course. But they don’t think globally. It is so easy to tell everybody “I can have sth for free so don’t tell me it’s wrong, I am young, I am brave, I am the most important here and now”. And YOU call me “the troll”? That’s even funny… or sad. Do you also collect your fave music and movies from the Web? And name it “fair”?

    2.  Did you actually read the whole thing?  The author made it very clear — that is, the author explicitly stated that “we” are happy to remunerate artists for the time and risks they put into creative works.  So the author obviously isn’t conflating “memory” with “anything I want to download and watch.”   And you do realize that traditional copyrights expired after only 14 years, right?

      Kinda busts up your argument, doesn’t it?

  18. “We are ignorant of the cultural processes of technological change.’

    ‘We are wholly credulous readers of a whole variety of sources.’

    ‘We don’t know anything anymore.”

  19. We, the kids of the internet read the recent collection of William Gibson non-fiction essays and cribbed the one about the internet being a shared collective memory, because we are really, really good at cribbing things and then chalking it up to ‘collective memory’.

  20. Hate all you want, the guy has a point. Sure, it sounds a bit hyperbolic (okay, a lot hyperbolic), but that’s the style of the Internet-manifesto…remember the Declaration of the Independance of Cyberspace ? The Hacker Manifesto ? Can’t blame the guy for following a stylistic tradition.
    As for content…well, what everyone seems to be upset about is him saying “we know how to use the Internet better than everybody”. It’s true that there is a greater degree of Internet proficiency in young people than in older people, although it is in no way as widespread as the text might indicate. But what striked me in this text is the assumption that the worldview of someone who grew up with the Net is vastly different from anything that came before, and the predictable result of this on politics and culture, specifically. 

    “There is not a trace in us of that humble acceptance displayed by our parents, who were convinced that administrative issues were of utmost importance and who considered interaction with the state as something to be celebrated. We do not feel that respect, rooted in the distance between the lonely citizen and the majestic heights where the ruling class reside, barely visible through the clouds. Our view of the social structure is different from yours: society is a network, not a hierarchy. ”

    That, IMHO, is the important part. Look at OWS, for instance: a huge global movement with no clear leadership. That would have been clearly impossible a few years ago, and as a political anarchist, I think it is pretty great that we are starting to build that kind of community. I’m seeing a lot of political thinking aimed in the same direction (Liquid Democracy, Lessing’s One Way Forward, etc), and it gives me the warm fuzzies. Also, the argument against extensions of copyright (these movies/books/games/whatevs are our memories, we should get them for free once their creator has had her shot at making money with them) is an interesting one.

    1. do you think you’d actually be able find an order of magnitude more “clear leadership” in the protests that swept the US and Western Europe during the late 1960’s? 

    2. “Sure, it sounds a bit hyperbolic (okay, a lot hyperbolic), but that’s the style of the Internet-manifesto.”

      It’s rather an old Polish tradition of ‘generation manifestos”. In recent years there was “Generation Nothing” (as in Nothing to do, let’s write a manifesto), JPIIGeneration (read: dead pope’s children, seen only by media) 1200pln Generation (as in: I work for 400$ per month and write manifestos), HWDP Generation (loosely translated as F@#k Tha Police Generation) , now it’s “lost generation” (as in: lost in everything) and of course, our beloved Web Kids. Once in a year some young man (preferably poet or punk artist) hears the CALLING, and write, write straight from the heart. Then everybody except his friends and few old guys from newspapers searching for new topics laughs and we wait for the unavoidable next year manifesto. It’s like national sport for thirtysomethings.

  21. Good piece, except for this horror:

    “We do not want to pay for our memories”

    No one is paying for their memories, because memories are in your head and no one can tax what’s in your head. 

    When you secure a copy of a tv show you remember from your childhood, that’s not a memory anymore. You’re not remembering the show, you’ve GOT IT. 

    I’m stumped as to why a 34-year old author would define memories as reminiscence of creative works made by other people, instead of as recollections of real life events. He’s old enough to have built up a great deal of wonderful memories before mass media came along. 

    However, if he’s accurately describing the current youth, the one that really DID grow up on the internet, it’s terrifying to think how much their identities rely on other people’s creative work. I understand that most memories are built online nowadays, because that’s where we all hang out. I myself don’t have many offline friends. But if a memory is nowadays more ‘that episode of MLP tv where Pinkie Pie had a party ‘ rather than ‘that time I hung out together with my friends’, then things are not good.

    Anyway, what the text SHOULD be arguing against is the unreasonable restriction of access to material which people would be quite willing to pay for. To oversimplify: if a once-published work which can be reproduced digitally is not available for purchase, it should be allowed to exist on the Web for free for the benefit of all. 

    1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

      Hyperbole ( /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-pur-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή, ‘exaggeration’) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

      1. Thank you, I know what a hyperbole is. Maybe someone should teach the author of the text that if used incorrectly, a hyperbole can sound like you’re talking out of your ass.

    2.  Umm, people have been keeping journals, notebooks, and diaries for millenia.  These things are external aids to memory.  Until the 21st century you could even copy copywritten works verbatim into them and the whole thing was legal.

      Now journals, notebooks, and diaries are digital.  All this means is that the external aids to memory are much higher resolution and much more efficient in terms of time.  This means everyone can have a photographic memory.  If that’s the case then why shouldn’t they?  Someone who actually has a photographic memory can recall a favorite movie or favorite song whenever they like — what’s so different about using a digital computer as an external aid to your own memory?

      Seems to me you’re committing one of the errors the manifesto’s author mentioned: thinking of the internet and digital technology generally as something “extra,” something above and beyond what’s already in the world.  No, digital technology is part of the world.  It changes some thing — for one, it improves our external aids to memory.  Rather than insist that digital devices need to be broken so that memory can work like it used to in the past maybe you should be considering how such new technologies can actually make the world a better place.

      1. No, I don’t think the internet and digital technology are something extra. Neither am I insisting digital devices should be broken, I don’t know where you got that from. 

        I am just saying that claiming that a work which someone else made and which is normally paid for is ‘your memory’ and therefore you deserve to have it for free based on your own arbitrary system of categories is ridiculous.

        The funny thing is that there are many, maaaany good arguments for allowing free access to works of art. ‘I remember this from my childhood and  I don’t want to pay for it’ is not one of those arguments.

  22. Heh – that pretty much describes me, except (hopefully) for the excessive self-importance. But at 47, I don’t describe myself as a “kid”. Not that I would describe myself as a grownup, either.

    I was a web “kid” back in the days of bbs systems and Lynx. Back when we archied  things rather than googled them. Through the snow, and uphill both ways.

    Now get off my lawn!

  23. There are some nice sweeps of phrase here but it’s really so incredibly naive and petulant. 

    “We are used to our bills being paid automatically, as long as our account balance allows for it;”

    Does that really sound like the call of a generation? When studying the effectiveness of the so-called digital natives, they don’t seem to do much better than the oldies they disdain at web searching and weaving it into their lives beyond reaching for it as a habit. Except that they think they’re practically transhuman about it. 

    There are a lot of people who feel the sense of empowerment and potential in the web, and it has nothing to do with their age. 

  24. Clearly, I’m too old and have crossed over to geezer-land but one paragraph hit me wrong in nearly every sentence.

    [QUOTE]Brought up on the Web we think differently. [/QUOTE]

    No, you don’t.  You’re just as lustful and loving, kind and cruel, analytical and emotional as every generation before you and every one that will come after.

    [QUOTE]The ability to find information is to us something as basic,[/QUOTE]

    Statement assumes a fact most assuredly not in evidence and quite wrong: that us oldsters, when we were young, didn’t also consider the ability to find information something basic to daily living.  The mechanisms were different but not the end result.

    [QUOTE]we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car.[/QUOTE]

    You mean like making left turns off cliffs or driving onto a closed-for-the-winter secondary mountain road in California and freezing to death, huh?  Good for you, sonny.

    [QUOTE]We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. [/QUOTE]

    No, you don’t, if you’re anything like the average kid today who actually thinks that some sizable portion of what they read on the ‘net is reality.  Most kids cannot identify “yellow journalism” when it smacks them in the face…

    [QUOTE]We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible.[/QUOTE]

    …so they’ve decided to substitute volume for reliability and make a weighted choice based on frequency of occurrence, one of the factors that us oldsters long ago rejected as too narrow to be reliable.

    [QUOTE]We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along. [/QUOTE]

    Allow me to restate:  Our idea of “filter” is to consume all and keep what we like.  The whole idea of using some sort of dogmatic set of principles (you know, those things that the elders, via any number of different means, once imposed on their young) is hopelessly outdated and we’d prefer to drift in an infinite sea of opinion, bouncing from one transitory truth to another, as we see fit.

    Holy, crap!  I had thought the ‘net would be a force for good and it still is when grown-ups use it.  For kids, though, it’s just further proof that they’re the same inward-looking, self-important, maddening little twerps they (specifically including me) always were.

    My advice to really young people:  Go make some art.  All those things that make you irritating also make you beautifully creative.  Leave the writing of manifestos to people who’ve been on this earth long enough to wipe their own butts without stopping to admire the aroma of superiority wafting off each square of toilet paper.

    1. My advice to really young people:…Leave the writing of manifestos to people who’ve been on this earth long enough to wipe their own butts without stopping to admire the aroma of superiority wafting off each square of toilet paper.

      My advice to you: Learn how to use the blockquote tag, and clean up your cut and paste messes so that I don’t have to.

      1. …clean up your cut and paste messes so that I don’t have to.

        And such a beautiful job you did.  Thank you.

        My advice to you: Since commenting systems vary so widely (what I did would have worked perfectly on many systems), BB should find some space on the right side of each page for a prominent link to http://docs.disqus.com/help/19/

  25. I guess at 67 I’m just too old to ever adapt. I mean, after learning how to read, how to write, how to navigate a library, how to evaluate conflicting sources, and all the rest, there’s just no room in my nervous system and behavioral repertory for anything newer–nor could I map this interwebby thing onto existing mental structures and protocols and skills. Just. Too. Old.

    How geriatric dinosaurs like Bill Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Greg Egan, and Vernor Vinge manage to think about all this info-cyber-googly-world stuff is a kind of miracle.

    And I scroll down and find that “we” are a thirty-something. Oy.

    Once you see clothes that you bought new become unfashionable twice, your view of the world changes, just a little.

    The Woodstock cohort thought it invented sex. Stardust, golden, Garden. Uh huh.

    As I am now, so will you be.

    1.  Yes – I’m too late to make a comment anyone will read, but I think most people missed the point, badly. And it’s not their fault – the manifesto is not correct in its definitions.

      The “web kid” generation as described is not 30-somethings. It’s anyone who was using the internet extensively while it was still growing and evolving. People who were creating content and doing all the typical Web-2.0 stuff long before Web-2.0.

      We had to gain in-depth knowledge of how it all works in order to simply use it for what today are simple tasks. And it’s not just the internet, of course – it’s the same for general computer knowledge.

      The era for this was the 80’s and 90’s in their entirety, and the age of the person who fits the “web kids” description can be anything. At 25, and having started using the command line at 5 or earlier (to simply launch games, but it’s a start), using compuserve and aol and then plain dialup long before getting high-speed cable around age 10, I’m among the youngest. There are of course plenty 30-somethings who qualify – and it’s perhaps the biggest group – but as I said, it’s not the age, it’s the experience.

      Even the younger people today who get really into the technical side of things approach it in a different way. They’re a new “web kids” generation – “web kids 2.0” perhaps. But that’s another discussion.

  26. As someone who is from Poland myself, I am deeply embarassed that this pretentious crap has gone international. 

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