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  1. #1
    Symbolic Herald Vasilisa's Avatar
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    Post We, the Web Kids

    We, the Web Kids
    by Piotr Czerski
    edited by Alexis Madrigal
    21 February 2012
    The Atlantic

    Excerpt:
    1. We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not 'surf' and the internet to us is not a 'place' or 'virtual space'. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

    Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something - the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of 'Estonia', or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high - we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

    To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

    2. Participating in cultural life is not something out of ordinary to us: global culture is the fundamental building block of our identity, more important for defining ourselves than traditions, historical narratives, social status, ancestry, or even the language that we use. From the ocean of cultural events we pick the ones that suit us the most; we interact with them, we review them, we save our reviews on websites created for that purpose, which also give us suggestions of other albums, films or games that we might like. Some films, series or videos we watch together with colleagues or with friends from around the world; our appreciation of some is only shared by a small group of people that perhaps we will never meet face to face. This is why we feel that culture is becoming simultaneously global and individual. This is why we need free access to it.
    ...
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  2. #2
    FRACTALICIOUS phobik's Avatar
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  3. #3
    pathwise dependent FDG's Avatar
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    It does sound a bit hipster-y, but I agree completely.
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    Post Human Post Qlip's Avatar
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    Yeah, I can dig it, even though I'm not young enough to be a 'Web kid'. I'm curious as to whether these expectations can continue to exist in the real world as governments and other institutions figure out how to deal with the internet on their terms.

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    I think anyone who reads this should pay particular attention to the editorial disclaimer at the beginning of the article:

    Piotr Czerski is a Polish writer and commentator. Here, he lays out the kind of political/literary manifesto that seems to pop up from time to time, usually in Europe. The essay, as translated by Marta Szreder, was posted to Pastebin under a Creative Commons license. I repost it here with the first several paragraphs excised, so that we can hasten to the meat of Czerski's analysis about how the expectations of young people have been conditioned by their experiences of the Internet.
    As the article goes on (the stuff after Vasilisa had cut the article short for the purposes of her post) the author's opinions veer off into a screed against the producers of mass media (books, music, movies, etc.) and how their 'traditional' method of information distribution doesn't jive with the "web kids" conception of, well, pretty much everything on the internet being free. In particular the author notes:

    We are prepared to pay, but the giant commission that distributors ask for seems to us to be obviously overestimated. Why should we pay for the distribution of information that can be easily and perfectly copied without any loss of the original quality
    Given that he's from Poland where, as I understand it, online services such as Netflix and Hulu simply don't exist (I sympathize: being from Canada I can't access Hulu either and Netflix's Canadian operations are a shadow of the US's) and iTunes often doesn't carry the media he might want it makes sense to him to simply download a boot-leg copy. As he says, there isn't any real loss in quality, so why not? It's not like the days of yore when a boot-leg cassette was made from the shaky camcorder work of a sleazeball in a cinema. I also agree that the prices of media don't correlate well with their material worth. Why should an iTunes download of Puss in Boots cost $25? That's awfully steep for something that's probably going to be watched on at best a computer screen, but I think there's a disconnect that the author has with respect to the value of a product like that. He says "instead of accepting the challenge and trying to reach us with something more than we can get for free they have decided to defend their obsolete ways." That raises a couple questions in my eyes.

    1) Why should a media distributor try to 'reach' someone who has marginal interest in paying for something?
    2) Why shouldn't they defend their business model?

    "Sales goals of corporations" may be "of no interest to ['web kids'] whatsoever" but can you really blame the corporation? At the end of the day they need to make money to continue to exist. Why should they give a damn about marketing to people who don't want to pay them for their content at all? It bears out in the studies the media distributors themselves have done: a large proportion of people who 'pirate' content wouldn't pay a penny for it even if was available by legitimate online means. "Web kids" seemingly don't understand how money flows.

    I guess that's because, in the author's words: "since money stopped being paper notes and became a string of numbers on the screen, paying has become a somewhat symbolic act of exchange that is supposed to benefit both parties". It's pretty easy to be flippant about paying for something when to you "are used to our bills being paid automatically, as long as our account balance allows for it". Maybe if "web kids" used paper money they'd be more cognizant of the deleterious effects of everything being free. They probably wouldn't be a fan of everything being free if their work was free too. Have fun paying those bills automatically when your job at (e.g.) a coffee shop pays you nothing. Oh, but you got to "share in the cultural experience"; hopefully that's more than enough solace.


    I still don't think "Generations Y & Z" are as lazy and unproductive as their Gen X and Baby-Boomer parents might believe but it's hard to fight the stereotype when they say naïve things akin to "I think everything should just be free". It's an incredibly ignorant, blatant disregard for "how the system works". It's no surprise then that the author would say things like:

    We do not understand why tax act takes several forms to complete, the main of which has more than a hundred questions.
    Because it's law, you dummy! One can only be so concise in those matters. It requires deliberate, long-winded explanation because otherwise people would not know what the hell to do or would naturally try to weasel their way out of it. It's the same reason why those pesky End-User Licence Agreements pop up when you install a new piece of software, but instead of being able to check off the box that says "I read, understand and agree to the terms of the EULA" you have to actually read the damn document! It's too important to be brushed off with a checkbox and a click of the 'OK' button.


    Perhaps "web kids" are so predisposed to illegally download something from the internet for free because they can't be bothered to wait for content to be distributed, in the same way they can't be bothered to read and fill out a tax form or a EULA. It's all about instant gratification for them; everything should be available and free because they want it NOW, dammit! That sort of attitude lends itself to being blasé about paying for something. If there's no worth attached to a movie, song or book why shouldn't it be free?

    We find online the films that we watched as children and we show them to our children, just as you told us the story about the Little Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks. Can you imagine that someone could accuse you of breaking the law in this way? We cannot, either.
    The author glosses over the fact that unless his parents recited from memory they BOUGHT AND PAID FOR a copy of Little Read Riding Hood and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. They didn't expect their friends who owned the book to willingly and freely make a photocopy of it for them.

    In a way it goes back to the topic of another thread Vasilisa started: e-books are damaging society. Little Red Riding Hood didn't pass through the collective societal consciousness as a universal folk tale: people bought books! They exchanged money for a copy of the story. If the story didn't make money no one would have bothered to print it.

    Some of the people in that other thread made mention of the fact that it's the information in the books that is important not the medium, but there is a permanence with a book. There is a permanence to a DVD copy of a movie. It is worth something because you can keep it and enjoy it for a very long time. It has value as a story, as a narrative, but without someone paying for a copy of it NO ONE will get a copy of it because it won't be produced in the first place.

    If you're still reading this long post () ask yourself this: do you think "web kids" appreciate the content of books, music, movies, etc. in the first place? I would argue no, they don't, and that's why they are so reticent to pay for it. Not because it's so easy to acquire a boot-leg copy, not because it's overpriced, but because it's just another thing to be consumed without nearly as much thought as their ancestors would have put into appreciating a good book. Just like they don't have the patience to read and appreciate what is being said in a EULA they don't have the patience to appreciate the media they consume.

    In fact I don't think they really know how to appreciate it anymore. When I say this I think of a concert I went to in January that featured the music of John Williams (the orchestral composer, not the guitarist). I sat next to a group of younger men, probably not much younger than I am, but obviously this was their first visit to the concert hall to attend a live performance of the philharmonic orchestra. They were blown away by the fidelity of the sound of the performance. I wanted to say to them, "Well obviously it sounds great if you've only ever heard this music in a YouTube clip or an iTunes download."

    I know I can come across as a bit of a curmudgeon sometimes but I don't think you can truly appreciate the content of a song if you're listening to an MP3 on your iPod. Pop a CD into a good stereo system! Similarly I don't want to download a movie torrent and watch it on my 13" computer screen: I want a good copy on a physical medium, and at the very least I want to watch in on my TV. That's what it's for. A movie isn't just a story, it entails sound and cinematography. I can't appreciate that sound and camera work if I watch it on my computer. Even the best TV can only do so much.

    This is cool:

    [YOUTUBE="bwlDW8qFGFA"]Jurassic Park T. Rex[/YOUTUBE]

    But if you haven't seen it in a cinema do you have any idea how incredibly awesome it is to have it fill your entire field of view and be so loud that you feel every footstep sound effect? That is how it was MEANT to be experienced, not some tinny little YouTube clip.



    That lack of appreciation for the content of a downloaded work leads to a terrible side effect. The worst thing about downloading media illegally, worse than that the artists won't want to produce new content, is that "web kids" are just as quick to delete it off their hard drive after a while. I think that's the danger the e-books article was speaking to too. People wouldn't have even heard of Little Red Riding Hood if the people who bought the original books 300 years ago threw them away after reading the story.

    (EDIT: I forgot to say that "web kids" also seem to have a problem simply "going without". Think an album is overpriced? Instead of grumbling about how overpriced the CD is and scouring the internet for a boot-leg copy why don't you try NOT listening to it at all? You know what'll get distributors to lower the price of music? Reduced demand. Supply vs. demand, web kids: it's pretty god-damn simple.)





    (if you're a "web kid" who scrolled down here looking for a 'TL;DR' synopsis go fuck yourself and read the whole thing )

  6. #6
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    Because it's law, you dummy! One can only be so concise in those matters. It requires deliberate, long-winded explanation because otherwise people would not know what the hell to do or would naturally try to weasel their way out of it. It's the same reason why those pesky End-User Licence Agreements pop up when you install a new piece of software, but instead of being able to check off the box that says "I read, understand and agree to the terms of the EULA" you have to actually read the damn document! It's too important to be brushed off with a checkbox and a click of the 'OK' button.
    I don't know about that - it is possible to have a simplified system. The NZ tax system is super easy and straight-forward. I have been told this by people of different nations as well as seeing a comparison. My sister worked in Canada for a year and, after returning home, was attempting to fill in forms to get what would be decent sized tax return. She spent days trying to decipher it, endlessly going over calculations, ringing the helplines in Canada, questioning her Canadian friend (who was present and was also trying to complete the forms - and also had no clue). I thought she was being over the top and then I tried to read them...

    Ridiculous.

    Perhaps "web kids" are so predisposed to illegally download something from the internet for free because they can't be bothered to wait for content to be distributed, in the same way they can't be bothered to read and fill out a tax form or a EULA. It's all about instant gratification for them; everything should be available and free because they want it NOW, dammit! That sort of attitude lends itself to being blasé about paying for something. If there's no worth attached to a movie, song or book why shouldn't it be free?
    Perhaps this is true when you're in the US but are you aware how long we (ie. many other distribution territories) actually have to wait? (Assuming you're American. Are you? )

    Here, we get many movies 3-9 months (sometimes even later) after they were released in North America. We have to read online and in magazines about how great/controversial/interesting etc they are all that time - we are impacted by the buzz and publicity the studios actively incite but aren't allowed to indulge in it. Can you not see how this would be frustrating?

    Don't even get me started on TV shows. Some of which we are a year or 2 behind America (or the UK for that matter); and some shows are never even broadcasted at all. If you are a serious fan of a show you also can't go on to fan sites because almost all are located in the US and are a minefield of spoilers.

    I don't wish to advocate piracy, but I can see why people get sick of waiting for America's hand-me-downs. And with the convenience and low cost of digital distribution, why are the US studios/networks failing to adapt to this?

    In fact I don't think they really know how to appreciate it anymore. When I say this I think of a concert I went to in January that featured the music of John Williams (the orchestral composer, not the guitarist). I sat next to a group of younger men, probably not much younger than I am, but obviously this was their first visit to the concert hall to attend a live performance of the philharmonic orchestra. They were blown away by the fidelity of the sound of the performance. I wanted to say to them, "Well obviously it sounds great if you've only ever heard this music in a YouTube clip or an iTunes download."
    I agree. It bothers me that people wish to sacrifice quality for quantity. They want to consume as much as possible without pausing to take it in or making an effort to experience as it should be experienced. As much as people mock hipsters, you can see how they were formed in reaction to this sort of thinking.
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

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    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    (Assuming you're American. Are you?
    No, your sister would have been in luck: I'm Canadian!

    I don't know about that - it is possible to have a simplified system. The NZ tax system is super easy and straight-forward. I have been told this by people of different nations as well as seeing a comparison. My sister worked in Canada for a year and, after returning home, was attempting to fill in forms to get what would be decent sized tax return. She spent days trying to decipher it, endlessly going over calculations, ringing the helplines in Canada, questioning her Canadian friend (who was present and was also trying to complete the forms - and also had no clue). I thought she was being over the top and then I tried to read them...

    Ridiculous.


    I do my own taxes and I think it's relatively simple and straightforward. The only grey areas are what does and does not count as a tax credit, and how much of it counts. At least this is the case for a Canadian living in Canada year after year. I can imagine the paperwork for a foreign national on a work visa becomes significantly more complicated as the number of exemptions and credits balloons.


    Here, we get many movies 3-9 months (sometimes even later) after they were released in North America. We have to read online and in magazines about how great/controversial/interesting etc they are all that time - we are impacted by the buzz and publicity the studios actively incite but aren't allowed to indulge in it. Can you not see how this would be frustrating?

    Don't even get me started on TV shows. Some of which we are a year or 2 behind America (or the UK for that matter); and some shows are never even broadcasted at all. If you are a serious fan of a show you also can't go on to fan sites because almost all are located in the US and are a minefield of spoilers.

    I don't wish to advocate piracy, but I can see why people get sick of waiting for America's hand-me-downs. And with the convenience and low cost of digital distribution, why are the US studios/networks failing to adapt to this?
    I can see why this is frustrating, and believe me I have experienced the same sort of thing. Some movies get released later in North America than they do overseas, e.g. the recent The Adventures of Tintin which debuted in Europe in late October, Dec. 21 in Canada and the US, and in New Zealand and Australia on Boxing Day. Many films debut at the same time in Canada as they do in the US, but in limited release in Canada i.e. it might be screened at a couple theatres in Toronto and one in Vancouver for the first month. I experienced this when I wanted to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It debuted in the UK and Ireland last September, had a wide release in the US on Jan. 6 and wasn't released widely throughout Canada until Jan. 20.

    British TV is nearly impossible to follow because it is broadcast here on the cable specialty channel (read: $$$$$$) BBC Canada and is often played months later the the original British airing. I recently watched the first series of the BBC show Sherlock. I enjoyed it quite a lot. At the time I didn't even know the second series had already aired on the BBC in the UK and it was already available on DVD/Blu-ray there. It hasn't even aired here and won't until May, and probably won't get a DVD/Blu-ray release until August.

    So I really do understand the frustration of having to put up with the hype surrounding media that you won't see (by legitimate means) until months after the fact. Given the proliferation of the media that hypes these sorts of things it does make more sense to have films distribute on a global scale around the same time. Going back to the article the internet really is a global information resource that doesn't have many international borders which is changing how people view media. Staggered release dates are part of what is becoming an anachronistic marketing and distribution system. To be fair to the US movie studios it's not their fault movies premiere much later in New Zealand because there's usually some other company who owns the international distribution rights.


    I agree. It bothers me that people wish to sacrifice quality for quantity. They want to consume as much as possible without pausing to take it in or making an effort to experience as it should be experienced. As much as people mock hipsters, you can see how they were formed in reaction to this sort of thinking.
    Yes, I can see how hipsters formed in reaction to that sort of thinking. Where hipsters go wrong is that they often have more appreciation for the medium (e.g. vinyl records) than they do the content. They revel in listening to a record despite the music itself being schlock just because it's a record in the first place.

  8. #8
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 93JC View Post
    No, your sister would have been in luck: I'm Canadian!



    I do my own taxes and I think it's relatively simple and straightforward. The only grey areas are what does and does not count as a tax credit, and how much of it counts. At least this is the case for a Canadian living in Canada year after year. I can imagine the paperwork for a foreign national on a work visa becomes significantly more complicated as the number of exemptions and credits balloons.
    No, the tax forms she filled out were the same as the Canadian friend and she had no idea how to complete them either. It wasn't just the many complex steps that was difficult either, it was the language they used in each individual question - the sort of language accountants or lawyers go to university for years to learn and here they are expecting ordinary people to understand it. In the end, they sent it to a Canadian accountant to do it for them and took the financial cut that came with it.

    Who knows, Alberta might be 1000x more complex tax-wise that other provinces but I got the impression from the (Nova Scotian) friend that she's always had difficulty with it.

    So I really do understand the frustration of having to put up with the hype surrounding media that you won't see (by legitimate means) until months after the fact. Given the proliferation of the media that hypes these sorts of things it does make more sense to have films distribute on a global scale around the same time. Going back to the article the internet really is a global information resource that doesn't have many international borders which is changing how people view media. Staggered release dates are part of what is becoming an anachronistic marketing and distribution system.
    Agreed.

    To be fair to the US movie studios it's not their fault movies premiere much later in New Zealand because there's usually some other company who owns the international distribution rights.
    Yes, I do realise that but I doubt that NZ distributors (whether in film or television) would choose to wait months and months to release hot product. Either the studios prevent them from releasing until a certain date, or they put a hefty price on buying releases straight away.

    Yes, I can see how hipsters formed in reaction to that sort of thinking. Where hipsters go wrong is that they often have more appreciation for the medium (e.g. vinyl records) than they do the content. They revel in listening to a record despite the music itself being schlock just because it's a record in the first place.
    Absolutely and this is my problem with them. The theory, though, is reasonable, but not in it's practice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    No, the tax forms she filled out were the same as the Canadian friend and she had no idea how to complete them either. It wasn't just the many complex steps that was difficult either, it was the language they used in each individual question - the sort of language accountants or lawyers go to university for years to learn and here they are expecting ordinary people to understand it. In the end, they sent it to a Canadian accountant to do it for them and took the financial cut that came with it.

    Who knows, Alberta might be 1000x more complex tax-wise that other provinces but I got the impression from the (Nova Scotian) friend that she's always had difficulty with it.
    Oh, I see.


    Well, everybody's different. Some find it simpler than others.

    If she ever decides to work in Alberta again I can give her a hand. (I'm from Alberta, and as far as I know it's actually easier to complete Albertan tax returns because the provincial income tax rate is a flat 10%.)

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    Relevant:





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