after my umpteenth confrontation with a clueless baby-boomer talking smack about the emerging new world i’ve decided to write a brief guide to living in the information age. this is directed at everybody who is complaining about “those darn kids” and the death of print media, the people who are working in major arts institutions (especially theaters) and say things like, “I don’t understand. we’ve got a facebook page, we’ve got a twitter, we’ve tried everything and we just can’t get new audiences!” The key is first part of the sentence – YOU DON’ T UNDERSTAND. It is not about the toys and gizmos and all that. It is about your attitude.
I’m going to start with something that will sound kind of new age-y but I hold to be true. In the ever-unfolding and mutating present the key is to embrace change, accept chaos and open yourself to endless possibility. Really. Just let go. Let go of everything you know. Let go of privacy, let go of power, let go of your ego and your need for control and embrace malleability. Dare to care. Dare to disclose. Dare to share. Reality is kind of like a powerful hallucinogen – if you fight it you’re going to have a bad trip. If you just let go and ride it, everything will be just fine and you might just learn something. Be open to learning things from whoever brings knowledge – and it can come from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Read Clay Shirky. He wrote a whole book about it.
Secondly, you have to actually mean what you say. The new internet age is very sensitive to bullshit and very positive about sincerity. That doesn’t mean be overly earnest, it means try not being completely full of shit. Young people respond to authenticity. If you are losing audience maybe you should try not to suck. Don’t put up crappy shows. Do something passionate and engaged that you care about – something you would do if you weren’t worried about money. Pretend like money is not an issue, let go and do what you really care about. Do a show that is meaningful to you and share why it is meaningful. Don’t try and trick people with a line of hooey. We see through you. Don’t tell us what to think, don’t try and second-guess. Just do what you do with honesty and intention and share the process. If you care, we’ll care.
Here’s the deal. The gizmos are always going to change faster than you can adopt them. Twitter is pretty much over. I mean, its here, but its over as far as novelty goes. Remember, also, that Twitter was created by accident, to solve a specific problem. It was an aftereffect, not an intention. That’s kind of how things go these days. Soon Google WAVE is going to come out and change everything. Google OS, running on netbooks, is going to come out and change things. And who knows what else is going to come out and change everything? You just have to constantly be ready to adapt.
Living in the information age means starting every brainstorm session with, “Wouldn’t it be cool if….”
Living in the information age means no hierarchy
Living in the information age means starting from YES
Living in the information age means letting go of your old battles because they just don’t mean the same things anymore
Living in the information means nobody cares how hard you had to fight to get where you are
Living in the information age means being open and inviting people in
Living in the information age means sharing
We are living in the single best time to be alive ever. The information age doesn’t care about the sixties, or about how things used to be, it doesn’t care about all those old oppositional models that propagate conflict. The Information Age cares about the future, about making the world better, about boldly facing what is to be and working to shape it into something better, constantly improving, constantly evolving, constantly working towards a state of optimal good-ness.
So to all of you people who don’t get it. Quit worrying. Just go with it. And don’t worry too much. But if you get left behind, it’ll be your own fault. This isn’t like “Don’t trust anyone over thirty” – it is not oppositional. Being “on the bus” is not a generational thing, its an attitude thing, its a choice. And the choice is yours. We’d love to have you. Or we can just wait for nature to take its course.