Getting Reoriented

But unlike most periods in history, young people today do not have to either “wait their turn” or directly confront a social order that is systematically stacked against them. Operating in the margins by a hacker ethos — a problem solving sensibility based on rapid trial-and-error and creative improvisation —  they are able to use software leverage and loose digital forms of organization to create new economic, social and political wealth. In the process, young people are indirectly disrupting politics and economics and creating a new parallel social order. Instead of vying for control of venerable institutions that have already weathered several generational wars, young people are creating new institutions based on the new software and new wealth. These improvised but highly effective institutions repeatedly emerge out of nowhere, and begin accumulating political and economic power. Most importantly, they are relatively invisible. Compared to the visible power of youth counterculture in the 1960s for instance, today’s youth culture, built around messaging apps and photo-sharing, does not seem like a political force to reckon with. This culture also has a decidedly commercial rather than ideological character, as a New York Times writer (rather wistfully) noted in a 2011 piece appropriately titled Generation Sell.4 Yet, today’s youth culture is arguably morepowerful as a result, representing as it does what Jane Jacobs called the “commerce syndrome” of values, rooted in pluralistic economic pragmatism, rather than the opposed “guardian syndrome” of values, rooted in exclusionary and authoritarian political ideologies.

Source: Getting Reoriented

Getting Reoriented

One way to understand the shift from credentialist to hacker modes of social organization, via young people acquiring technological leverage, is through the mythological tale of Prometheus stealing fire from the heavens for human use.

The legend of Prometheus has been used as a metaphor for technological progress at least since Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus. Technologies capable of eating the world typically have a Promethean character: they emerge within a mature social order (a metaphoric “heaven” that is the preserve of older elites), but their true potential is unleashed by an emerging one (a metaphoric “earth” comprising creative marginal cultures, in particular youth cultures), which gains relative power as a result. Software as a Promethean technology emerged in the heart of the industrial social order, at companies such as AT&T, IBM and Xerox, universities such as MIT and Stanford, and government agencies such as DARPA and CERN. But its Promethean character was unleashed, starting with the early hacker movement, on the open Internet and through Silicon-Valley style startups.

As a result of a Promethean technology being unleashed, younger and older face a similar dilemma: should I abandon some of my investments in the industrial social order and join the dynamic new social order, or hold on to the status quo as long as possible?

Source: Getting Reoriented

How Kids Just Being Kids Became a Crime | TakePart

Nuisance policing comes down hard on young people, given as they are to cavorting in front of others. Kids don’t own space anywhere, so most of their socializing takes place in public. The police are increasingly unwilling to cede any space at all to kids: patrolling parks, making skateboarding a crime, criminalizing in-school misbehavior.

Source: How Kids Just Being Kids Became a Crime | TakePart