We had the pleasure of hosting Kelly Mooney, President of Resource Interactive and my peer on the Shop.org Board of Directors, as one of our keynote speakers at our Social Commerce Summit last week (note: the event was amazing, see the recap post from Sam Decker, our CMO). Kelly was great, as always. Her interview of Ze Frank, one of our Advisory Board members, was fantastically thought-provoking and entertaining. Hey keynote presentation on The Open Brand, her new book (see my interview of Kelly), was also top-notch. What I remembered most from her presentation was the "Yes We Can" shared community video produced by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas. Kelly blogs about it here (her blog is one of the few that I personally follow). The video is an awesome expression of community participation and user-generated content (note: mouse over the mosiac as it plays).
Whether or not you support Obama, his innovative use of the online channel will be emulated for future democratic elections. And as politics gets more "open", that will benefit us all. Just like customer-generated reviews benefits all with better products and services (at our Summit, I learned that Wal-Mart drops any product nationwide after it gets a certain number of negative reviews online), so will politics as candidates engage in openness.
Millennials will demand this as they have grown up online, marinating in "community". I found Wired's Founding Editor's letter to his children (Millennials themselves) in this month's issue especially uplifting given the gravity of change we need (when speaking of the global warming issue alone). Here's the best excerpt:
Strauss and Howe's [of Generations] description of Millennials inspired us: "This generation will show more teamlike spirit and more like-mindedness in action than most Americans then alive will recall ever having seen in young people… Millennials will carry out whatever crisis mission they are assigned — as long as they can connect it with their own secular blueprint for progress. If crisis brings war, soldiers will obey orders without complaint. If it involves environmental danger or natural resource depletion, young scientists will make historic breakthroughs. If the crisis is mostly economic, the youthful labor force will be a mighty engine of renewed American prosperity. Whatever their elder-bestowed mission, these rising youths will not disappoint. Assuming the crisis turns out well, Millennials will be forever honored as a generation of civic achievers."
What's heartening to me, Orson and Zoe, is that even though you and your peers have grown up watching your parents become self-absorbed, hypocritical, and now plain crotchety and rancorous (not Jane and me, of course), and even if you stand in the rubble of the social institutions toppled by the Digital Revolution, your response is not the me-me-me of your parents' generation but us-us-us. Whether you're addressing climate change or serving in Iraq, you are simultaneously more traditionalist and future-forward, more practical and idealistic, than your parents.
The challenge is obvious, the dangers present, the need great. But be optimistic. I would say that, wouldn't I, since we were often accused during my time at Wired of being overly optimistic. But optimism is not false hope, it's a strategy for living. If you are optimistic about the future, you will step up and take responsibility and attempt to make it better for yourselves and your own children.