The Mantra Of The Digital Generation: Life, Liberty And Blazing Broadband

from the internet-is-part-of-identity dept

I recently had an interesting discussion with a politician who really, really understands the various issues that we regularly discuss around here. I brought up the question of whether or not some of this was a “generational” issue, and he (being of a somewhat older generation) said he didn’t think that was necessarily the case, and indicated it was, perhaps, more about the amount of knowledge that people had about these issues. He pointed out that there are plenty of people who start out as copyright maximalists (or even supporters of the current status quo), but who, as they learn more, move in the other direction. Yet, it’s extremely difficult to name anyone who goes in the other direction. Thus, over time, more and more people will move in the direction of understanding these issues, rather than fighting against progress and innovation.

That said, while it is not an entirely generational issue, it should be acknowledged that the younger generation — those who are “digital natives” — seem to grasp these things much more clearly and much more quickly. In part, it’s because this is entirely natural to them. They don’t just understand the technology, but they live the technology and can’t imagine a world in which it is limited. If anything, they want to go even further.

Fred Wilson recently put up a great blog post discussing how he was taking his daughter and some of her friends back to college, and overheard them talking about SOPA (an issue that Fred was heavily involved in fighting, but he was not the one who brought it up). I heard very similar stories from others, including a lawyer who was extremely active in fighting SOPA who explained how his college student son — who had previously shown absolutely no interest in his father’s work on copyright law issues — was suddenly posting up a storm on Facebook about the bills.

In the past, many of the debates around copyright and internet freedom were really the realm of policy wonks. They could (and would) make lots of noise. And that noise perhaps kept the worst of the worst ideas from moving forward, but did not stop the constant expansionism of the copyright maximalist lobby. Where SOPA/PIPA changed things was that it really was the public — the people who aren’t policy wonks — who realized that something really bad was happening. And they spoke up. Of course, when the general public joins in on discussions like this, sometimes they get some of the tangential facts confused — and the copyright maximalists have seized on those slight mistakes or exaggerations to insist that the whole opposition was based on “lies” (amusing to hear considering their consistent parade of flat-out lies in favor of constant copyright expansion). However, what they’re failing to understand is that for people who truly understand the power of the internet, this isn’t about a particular bill or a particular policy. It’s about something that is a very part of their identity.

As Fred noted:

Their generation grew up with a computer on their lap and now in their pocket. They were on Facebook before they were supposed to be. Their first phone was a smartphone. They prefer to watch a movie on their laptop lying on their bed than in the movie theater. And as a young woman said at Princeton last week, they want “life, liberty, and blazing broadband”.

That mantra isn’t about “piracy” or wanting things for free. It’s about a recognition of just how powerful and important the internet and internet freedom is as a fundamental principle of their identity. While some may not think this is a good thing, the internet has become indelibly intertwined with our lives in a way that is impossible to unwind. Thus any attempt to push back against that core mantra is not seen as a “policy fight” or an issue of “Silicon Valley vs. Hollywood.”

It’s an attack on their very identity.

For those who still look upon internet policy making as a mere technology debate, or a mere intellectual property policy issue (or even as a specific business or industry interest), they will forever miss the point and come at the debate from the wrong perspective. When you’re talking about a core principle of your very identity, you don’t compromise. You pursue “life, liberty and blazing broadband,” and you don’t let anything get in your way.

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Comments on “The Mantra Of The Digital Generation: Life, Liberty And Blazing Broadband”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I see you were listening to some of my advice however I’m sure you can do better. You did pretty well with avoiding facts and you get points for the use of a “you suck” comment to increase the validity of your argument but you didn’t really make anything up. Try to hit more points next time. We know you can do it. We believe in you.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Did you even read the post?

Or the sentence “That mantra isn’t about “piracy” or wanting things for free. It’s about a recognition of just how powerful and important the internet and internet freedom is as a fundamental principle of their identity.”

Or was it just a knee jerk response to a headline so you figured you could fire off another tiresome adhom that has nothing whatever to do with the subject at hand?

Know something? You’re not even very good at being a foul mouthed troll.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Well, at least it took a few post before a troll brought up their favourite bad guy, Google.

As for “greedy, parasitical business model” Google has to go no further than look at how the “content” industry operates.

And what they heck that as to do with “Life, Liberty and Blazing Broadband” is beyond me but I suppose that you found a link somewhere. Or it’s been a few days since you tried to trash Google and it boomeranged on you but you like pain so you thought you’d try again.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hey, I resemble that remark! (At least about the love of vehicles- I am clearly not Generation Y: when it comes to cars or age, I’m a Gen-Xer!)

Interesting way to look at these topics- but big picture posts shouldn’t ignore the fact that a fair amount of the world (& a sizable % of the US population) isn’t on-line or has a smart phone, or their on-line access is very limited. Are these people just not worth discussing? Seems like if anyone out there is going to be swayed by big $ campaigns, it’ll be the folks with little/no internet access.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

No one wants to pay for anything. If I could get everything for free, I would, and so would you. Econ 101.

It’s more of a case of, no one should be forced to pay for something they shouldn’t have to pay for.

IP shouldn’t be about getting consumers to pay for something. If that’s its purpose then I say we abolish it.

On the contrary, it should be serve a social benefit, to increase aggregate output and to give consumers access to more free content.


Re: The stuff has always been free.

Between NBC and the local radio station, we already had that “freeloader mentality” covered even in the 70s. There’s nothing new here in the Information Age. What you really have is higher visibility. You can actually see what’s going on.

The fact that people don’t pay (or don’t want to) hasn’t really changed.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Life, Liberty and Blazing Broadband ;-)

Gotta love that line!

For some us more adult types, though I question my membership in adulthood every now and then.

I worked in telecom in the days of the early Web and dial up at speeds that would accurately be called narrowband. (48.8 bps modem) I was also an early adopter of the Web which struck me as simply wonderful when I found it. What a place! And what a pile of information at my fingertips! Even if the best search engines of the day were piles of steaming crap. Oh yeah, and places like usenet where you really got to hang out with the copyright outlaws even though you almost certainly faced computer death if you spent half the night downloading a 5 min porn clip or the latest code to improve the performance of Windows 3.x!

I remember our network engineers getting really upset at people, like me, who kept lines tied up wandering the Internet and Web instead of leaving them idle which was how things were done in those days, and still are, on calculations of how many calls on what days, what time and so on determined the number of lines in an office. Darn but that Internet was dangerous!

At the time my employer was a month or two away from rolling out ADSL as an end user “feature” I was at a sales conference about how to build something for a start up company that they wanted that would send and receive data and mail at high speeds. Sales came up with an expensive package that included a nailed down T3 connection from their site to our nearest central office which, while broadband in any sense of the word was broadband isn’t what they wanted. There was no proposal for email or other things this customer wanted because sales felt that would eat into potential profit from ADSL or HDSL down the line and what was this thing called the Internet that I and a couple of other techie guys kept talking about? One of them went so far as to call it a fad. Surely it would go away. And surely they weren’t serious about hooking up to the local cableco for data (!!) that was telco turf and what did a cableco know about that?!

They put the proposal in and I got the phone call I knew I’d get from my contact there who wanted Internet access at what was passing for broadband in those days and, no, ISDN just wasn’t good enough. I did a runaround sales and got the company an “evaluation” install of corporate ADSL which was really HDSL by another name, the company whipped up a web site, got their email address and they were off. I also got to deal with an unhappy salesguy who lost his commission on his expensive, unworkable and out of spec proposal to them. I told him that it was his name on the sale so he’d get something, anyway, and to be happy and maybe he ought to look into this fad a little deeper.

I’m writing all of this to illustrate that from the moment I heard about the Web I was on it and have never stopped using it, or the broader Internet that it rides on.

Like the young women in the car SOPA and PIPA infuriated me. As much for the certainty that it wouldn’t work as it’s clumsy attempt to censor the Internet. Like the young women I’m a digital native, though, perhaps, digital immigrant is more appropriate as while I understand their view of the world, the Web and the Internet and completely share it even though I didn’t grow up with it.

I started out on a Tandy 1000 desktop (oh, gawd!), not a laptop, eventually went to the laptop and now the smart phone.

The problem is that the “content” industry takes advantage of politicians, bureaucrats and others who are digital outsiders. Few, if any, of these people have any idea of the impact the Web and the Internet have had on the world, on trade, business, culture and identity. It’s easier to brand what you don’t understand as lawless then it is to embrace it. Particularly if you don’t use it or on the outside looking “in”.

We haven’t seen the end of SOPA/PIPA/CISPA kind of legislation nor have we seen the end of ACTA/TPP kinds of “trade agreements” which are more about protecting analog turf than adapting to what digital natives or digital immigrants already know to be the truth about the Web and the Internet. It’s NOT lawless but it does have a culture of its own and a way of doing things that is different than the analog world.

It demands speed in releasing “content” so that consumers can get it. And without geographical restrictions which are now meaningless. This is the adaptation the “content” industries refuse to make. Why is beyond me because I’m sure they’d make a bundle just by making the adaptation, perhaps more than they are now. But they won’t because it’s out of their comfort zone, and how they’ve done business since forever. Then again, it was also how buggy makers had done business forever and we know what happened to them. More to the point we know what happened to telegraph only companies who didn’t move into telephony.

Too bad, so sad. Nothing at all to do with copyright at the end of the day but service.

So, I think I’ll adopt the phrase “Life, Liberty and Blazing Broadband”, print it out and pin it to the wall.

akp says:


So you’re saying that once political issues begin to affect them directly, kids get interested in politics?


I’ve always hated politics, the daily stupidity of our “leaders” gives me migraines. However, I’m pretty happy to see more people (read: young people) realizing that all is not peachy in our capital, and that they can actually do something about it.

Bring on la revolucion, Let it Burn 2012!

ToFit says:

Re: Re:

As long as you can make an exact copy of that stuff and never touch the original stuff, there really is not a problem with that because the original is still there for the owner.

By the way hands off my oxygen…it all belongs to me so your lungs are infringing on my rights to my declaired ownership of oxygen. Some ownership principles just seem silly when you frame them in the way they need to be seen…

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Other people’s stuff: Works that should be public domain but aren’t.

Other people’s stuff: Rights ‘stolen’ from artists, who are never compensated at all, let alone fairly.

Other people’s stuff: Desperately fighting to retain said rights when artists try to exercise their lawful termination rights.

Other people’s stuff: Making fake copyright claims on content that you have no right to.

Other people’s stuff: Getting lawful content taken down en masse because you can’t be bothered to do research or go to court.

Remind me who’s the bad guy here?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

By the way, there is a reason they call it RELEASING it. Releasing a work such as an album or movie means you have to let it go. You put it out there so that others can enjoy it too. So in that you release it and market it such that people can find it when they go looking for it. I would say that is almost accurate:

The Mantra Of The Digital Generation: Life, Liberty, Blazing Broadband, and What Was Previously Other People’s Stuff


Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

” Releasing a work such as an album or movie means you have to let it go”

Fail. You did a classic Masnick, you ignored context and tried to redefine something by a single word.

It’s called “releasing” but that is short for “released for sale”, not “released for free” or “released into the wild”.

Context. It explains many of the things that you (and Mike) miss.


Re: Re: Re: Akira says nay.

Nope. Publishing is “releasing”. That includes any context you can come up with. This is implicit in the social contract that is copyright.

Of course some crass types want to pretend that culture is some sort of virtual land grab. It isn’t.

Implicit in any publishing is that YOU WILL LOSE CONTROL.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Life, Liberty, And The Inalienable Second Amendment

… it doesn’t really say ‘socialism’ either. among other things, an Actually socialist system (modern usage/(there’s another name for this but it escapes me)) would regulate their anti-citizen ambitions into the ground, more so the closer they got to a monopoly.

a socialist (communist/Stalinist) system wouldn’t let them have monopolies/IP in the first place. the government would run it all instead.

Government monopolies aren’t free market, no, but they’re certainly capitalist and more right wing than left (also more authoritarian than liberal, really.)

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