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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Immersed in Nomadics

I am back to discussing the idea of a "nomadic culture" emerging as the first generation literally raised on the web matures and enters the economy and political realm. This time it was in response to William Heath's posting on "Blindside", a blog/wiki he "set up to answer the question 'What's going to go wrong in our e-enabled world'." William sent me an email asking how my idea of nomads (articulate in an earlier post on Ideal Government) related to the concept of "Generation C" which is attributed to a UK consultant, Matt Webb.

My response (posted as comment here) follows:

I am not quite sure the Generation C idea is quite the same as the nomadic, mainly due to the focus on control, which I think makes is closer to the “customer” model. The desire for control presumes the existence of certainty about preferences and priorities, and I don’t think that is quite what drives the emerging nomads. The immersion factor — being dropped into a setting of new and unfamiliar options (links) that can lead you into a completely different setting, etc. — provides the nomad with a sense of satisfaction that does not come from “consuming” but rather “experiencing”.

The folks I feel really captured this are Sherry Turkle of MIT and Janet Murray of Georgia Tech — and especially Murray’s “Hamlet on the Holodeck” and Turkle’s “Life on the Screen”, which are already more than a decade old. Turkle focuses on what happened when MIT students became immersed in the first MOOS and MUDS; Murray has taken immersion into literature and gaming. I think these folks really capture the nature of the shift to a nomadic culture, and the designers of e-government should be looking in those directions for hints of where the emerging generation might be — I guess we would call it Generation-I (for Immersed) or Generation-N (for nomadic)….

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