WikiBollocks: Tapscott DigiDemocracy Hype Shock Horror

Don Tapscott gets it all wrong about  the "Net Generation": 

[T]he new generation is turning into a political juggernaut that will dominate and change U.S. politics in the future. ..  They have at their fingertips the most powerful tool for informing, organizing and mobilizing. What's more, they know how to use it effectively, by communicating directly with each other, instead of waiting for orders from campaign headquarters.
And they won't settle for politics as usual. Having grown up digital, they will want to be involved in the act of governing by contributing ideas before decisions are made. What's more, they'll insist on integrity from politicians; if politicians say one thing and do another, they'll use their digital tools to find out, and spread the news.
Along with possibly being a decisive factor on Nov. 4, afterward they'll shake up the business of government. No matter who wins, the new president will have a tiger by the tail.

Lots of young people are voting for Obama & Young people use the Internet => The Net is giving rise to a new era of participation and blah blah blah.

If he had waited a day and watched the Canadian results he would have seen that there is no evidence of a boom in young voters here. The overall turnout was way down and there is no indication in the results or elsewhere of a significant boom in young voters (although it may be up from the historic low of 25% of the 18-24 age group in 2000). And  yes, Canadian youth use the Internet. 

For anyone not completely committed to Wikibollocks the conclusion is obvious: youth participation in the US is more to do with the Big Eared One than with Facebook. But The Globe and Mail just print this junk anyway.

Tapscott's Wikinomics was abysmal, and I see his new Grown Up Digital is at 4000 in the Amazon rankings. I think I'm going to have to give my blood pressure a boost and read the damn thing. Watch this space.
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  1. I’m curious why you didn’t like Wikinomics.
    It’s an relentlessly evangelistic book, for sure, and the authors end almost every chapter with a bullet list-like set of points which they intend as guidelines for the senior manager intent on changing the way her company works.
    But its fundamental point seemed sound: that the new technologies of the web, and the new forms of production that they engender, will change the nature of the corporation, in some way, even if not in exactly the way the authors think.

  2. Its relentless evangelism, as you call it, is a big part of why I didn’t like Wikinomics. You seem able to overlook it – I was not able to.
    Wikinomics makes two big claims:
    (1) crowdsourcing works for companies: “Smart firms can harness collective capability and genius to spur innovation, growth, and success.”
    (2) crowdsourcing is inherently democratizing: “the masses of people can participate in the economy like never before”.
    (1) is simplistic and is at most one part of a multi-part story. For example, the distribution of companies in a digital world will be one of fewer, bigger companies (eg bookstores in the real world versus bookstores in the digital world) and to this extent the Internet is a force for inequality and concentration of power.
    (2) is misleading – it suggests the participants get to take part in the benefits of their work and this is generally not so. There is a big difference – which the authors never acknowledge – between non-profit Wikipedia and for-profit Amazon.

  3. It is not that I dislike Mr. Tapscott’s texts, I just find that they are the Elvis or Eminem of the text book world.
    IE Whitey writing for the masses what the rest already knew about (Cluetrain Manifesto vs Naked Corp. anyone)
    As for youth, I have two – one was excited about voting, the second did not give a sh!t – and why?
    As he says – it has nothing to do with **him**.

  4. I heard a talk by John Curtice a while back, presenting the results of a study of political activism & the Net. The research question was essentially, has pervasive Internet access been a force for good in terms of expanding participation, i.e. were people who wouldn’t previously have been informed & involved using the Net to get informed & involved? His answer was, um, no, not really – political activism was a minority pursuit & always had been, and the Net hadn’t made it any less of one. Afterwards I asked the Shirky/Howard Dean question – had the Net been a negative influence, in that the frictionless ease of Net activism actually attracted people away from real-world politics? His answer was, um, no, not really – political activism was a minority pursuit & always had been, and in all probability the same minority were going to the physical meetings and joining the Facebook groups.
    But I guess “the Web is all new and interesting and everything, but it’s *not* changing the entire world as we know it” wouldn’t sell so many papers.

  5. Elliot – he does have a way of being second to the punch in a lot of things. After the Cluetrain/Naked Corp thing there was Wikinomics just after the Long Tail, and his new participatory-democracy thing comes right after Here Comes Everybody.
    Phil – it would be interesting to see a reference for that if you have one.

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