I spent today at the IAB’s Engage 2009 conference. Charles Leadbeater, author of We-think: the power of mass creativity, was the best speaker for me. I liked his advice for dealing with trolls (“sometimes, you just have to let it go”) and it was refreshing to see someone speak so fluently without the dreaded PowerPoint. His note about the future of media being about ‘mutuality’ was music my ears as well (as that’s what we’re trying to do with Reputation Online by combining editorial with UGC).
I also found his insight into the way kids interact with the online space really insightful. I realised a while ago that I don’t have any connection with anyone under the age of 21 any more, so his firsthand experience was great.
He spoke about his son hating things that stop him from grazing content; copyright, ads etc. “The dominant part of his culture is playing. It’s a fragmented space in which he is a participant, instead of a passive watcher”.
Leadbeater also made an interesting point about the potential for ‘playing’ online to be integrated into Education. One Sunday, his son had discovered an animation tool online and was so excited by it that he pondered making it a career choice, asking for extra software and books to teach himself. Leadbeater said that in an ideal world, this could have been continued at school the next day if his son had been able to go in and ask to learn more from his teachers.
He compared this to his own experience of a Sunday night as a child, which was all about Songs of Praise. He noted that he admired the architecture, fashion, design within the show, because that was all he could watch. For kids nowadays, there’s a vast amount of subjects and information online to get involved with. Yes, this could mean that they don’t pay attention to each one as much as he did with SOP, but it’s an interesting idea all the same.