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NetGen Wants Small Group Organizing

Kudos to danah boyd for taking notes at an Intel briefing on NetGEN. Her blog is coffee. She is also consistently one of the most interesting blogs I read.

"Melora Zaner from 3 degrees came to speak at Intel about the Net Generation". The advocacy movement is missing the entire Internet Generation (12- 24yrs) from our actions, style and causes. As a movement, we need to read as much as we can about our next group of replacements voices.

NetGen's prioritization of communication forums is interesting. Face-to-face dominates. Next comes cell phone (SMS or not). Next IM (usually AIM). Then email. Many had Live Journals which are more valuable as a form of communication than email. Email is assumed to be tracked by parents; cell phone conversations are not. Email is for dealing with parents. If there's going to be asynchonous behavior, use LJ (group commenting).

"NetGen deeply desires small group organization online" There are those in the movement that hope to "train" these younger folks into supporting the large old style advocacy. They will fail. NetGen are the future of our movement. We need to find mechanisms to foster effective political and civic engagement models that support small group self-organizing and work with the tools and channels they respect.

The bad news is that the communication channels Zaner finds are not being used by the advocacy movement. It also raises serious questions about the way we work to reach the older cohort of Netgen. How many advocacy campaigns and movements have geared "organizing" activites around the ways that NetGen talks to each other? Let's start developing our message and campaign tools to move across the channels that the NetGen uses.

The good news is that the NetGen will be very prepared to engage in network-centric advocacy. They are comfortable with the tools they need to maintain relationships over long distances. They can quickly organize thoughts and plan actions in chat rooms. They can reach each other very effectively (cell phones and AIM are always on) with fast connecting technology. They will not let anyone dominate the social discussion for very long but if you find a way to appeal to them they will plug into campaigns very quickly.