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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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Saturday
Feb182006

Art, poetry and technology

It's a thing of beauty when they all come together. From the LWW's 3rd graders...

flowerish.jpg

When a flower loses a petal, my heart beats.

butterflyish.jpg 

When a butterfly flies, I fly with it. 

 

Friday
Feb172006

Off line

Things have been quiet here on the blog lately and are likely to remain so for a while. Lots of travelling right now - Wisconsin, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Beijing, Tennessee, Santiago, Michigan and Ohio - all this month and next to do speaking and consulting. (The LWW says I have to keep going farther and farther away before people haven't heard my old jokes.)  I'm having a wonderful time everywhere and meeting exceptional people, but I don't much enjoy writing in coach, at the gate, or after checking in late, late at night. I plan to read for a while rather than write. Lucky you.

So here's the deal... I am counting on some great newer library bloggers to pick up the slack, including Jaquie Henry at Wanderings, Sara Kelly Johns at  From the Inside Out and Diane Chen at Deep Thinking, all thoughtful practitioners. I am hoping that mention this, I can guilt them into writing more. Send links to other fresh voices for libraries and technology here as well!

 

 

Thursday
Feb162006

Generation gap or generation gorge?

It was when my generation, the boomers, began flexing our public voice and political power that the term "generation gap" came into popular use. Our hair styles, political values and even life-views seemed wildly different from those of our parents who had been children during the Great Depression. My shameful insistence on wearing bell-bottom jeans and allowing my hair to touch the collar of my shirt was a bone of contention between my parents and me. Dad was more of an unmerciful teaser about such matters than autocrat, and I remember getting my haircut for my 1970 high school graduation when eventually my mother cried out of frustration over the matter. Coolness was not worth making one's mom weep.

Strangely though, I believe the gap (or gorge) between my son and me is greater than it was between my my father and me, though perhaps less obvious.  Look up Net Generation in the dictionary (oops, make that Wikipedia), and you will find Brady's picture. But he's not made me cry.

Music is one thing which divides us, as it has recent generations. But our difference in music go well beyond simple taste.

While the electric guitars, rock and roll, and drug-referenced lyrics I loved were all off-putting to my dad, we both listened to music in the same way - on LPs (or 45s) or on the AM radio station. There was no disagreement that one purchased music. That one listened to music as it was played by the artist. That one felt blessed when just the right song was played at just the right time when "parking" on a lonely road late at night with one's girl friend. Yes, 'Hey, Jude" or "Close to You" could get you to first base. Our musical experiences, Dad's and mine, in the end, were not vastly different.

My son caught the tail end of CD purchasing. But since he was 16, he's had an iPod and only purchased songs online. Music is not a physical object (my vinyl disk) to him, but a file, endlessly duplicable and transferable. The right song at the right time is his now up to him, not the DJ's. It's the right "mix" that gets the girl in a romantic mood today, I'm guessing. Or he'll go one step beyond making a mix, remixing song parts or combining them with visual images or text or  programming. Music is not an object, but a substance from which objects are made.

 We have different views of music ownership as well. I did not buy "the rights to use an audio recording." Hell, I bought a record - a thing. If I stole it from the store, it was stolen. I had it; the store did not. Intellectual property did not factor in. For my son, music is not something one can hold in one's hand. That can get scratched or melt if left in the back window of the car. The expression "sounds like broken record" doesn't, well, track. The property aspect of music for Brady seems to be more  fluid, less bound by strict rules of ownership. He understands and respects the need for an artist to be compensated for his work. But he's looser about things than I ever would be.

Finally, music seems a more private than public entertainment to him than me. While I listen via air molecules stirred up by speakers, Brady is usually attached to his music through ear buds. I have to think about the tastes and needs of others who may be sharing my audio space; Brady doesn't.

I believe Brady and I see other things quite differently as well - books, movies, work, school, and friendships to name a few. His attitude shaped so much by personal communication technologies. I love the child dearly. I respect him. I believe he is a good person. But he is strange to me.

I'm not sure what the impact of all of this is. Different generations have different values and the world seems to keep on turning. I am just not sure generational differences have ever been so subtle...or so deep.

Of course the gorge between Brady and any sons he may one day have has every chance of being even greater.