• Flattr FoI: 
Falkvinge &Co. on Infopolicy
BEFORE-FALKVINGE-IF-ANY FALKVINGE &CO. ON
INFOPOLICY
Falkvinge on Infopolicy - Home
»
Group of college students studying at campus

We, The Web Kids

26

Freedom of Speech – Piotr Czerski

Freedom of Speech – Piotr Czerski

There is probably no other word that would be as overused in the media discourse as ‘generation’. I once tried to count the ‘generations’ that have been proclaimed in the past ten years, since the well-known article about the so-called ‘Generation Nothing’; I believe there were as many as twelve. They all had one thing in common: they only existed on paper. Reality never provided us with a single tangible, meaningful, unforgettable impulse, the common experience of which would forever distinguish us from the previous generations. We had been looking for it, but instead the groundbreaking change came unnoticed, along with cable TV, mobile phones, and, most of all, Internet access. It is only today that we can fully comprehend how much has changed during the past fifteen years.

We, the Web kids; we, who have grown up with the Internet and on the Internet, are a generation who meet the criteria for the term in a somewhat subversive way. We did not experience an impulse from reality, but rather a metamorphosis of the reality itself. What unites us is not a common, limited cultural context, but the belief that the context is self-defined and an effect of free choice.

Writing this, I am aware that I am abusing the pronoun ‘we’, as our ‘we’ is fluctuating, discontinuous, blurred, according to old categories: temporary. When I say ‘we’, it means ‘many of us’ or ‘some of us’. When I say ‘we are’, it means ‘we often are’. I say ‘we’ only so as to be able to talk about us at all.

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.

This does not mean that we demand that all products of culture be available to us without charge, although when we create something, we usually just give it back for circulation. We understand that, despite the increasing accessibility of technologies which make the quality of movie or sound files so far reserved for professionals available to everyone, creativity requires effort and investment. 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? If we are only getting the information alone, we want the price to be proportional to it. We are willing to pay more, but then we expect to receive some added value: an interesting packaging, a gadget, a higher quality, the option of watching here and now, without waiting for the file to download. We are capable of showing appreciation and we do want to reward the artist (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), but the sales goals of corporations are of no interest to us whatsoever. It is not our fault that their business has ceased to make sense in its traditional form, and that 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.

One more thing: we do not want to pay for our memories. The films that remind us of our childhood, the music that accompanied us ten years ago: in the external memory network these are simply memories. Remembering them, exchanging them, and developing them is to us something as natural as the memory of ‘Casablanca’ is to you. 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.

3. We are used to our bills being paid automatically, as long as our account balance allows for it; we know that starting a bank account or changing the mobile network is just the question of filling in a single form online and signing an agreement delivered by a courier; that even a trip to the other side of Europe with a short sightseeing of another city on the way can be organised in two hours. Consequently, being the users of the state, we are increasingly annoyed by its archaic interface. We do not understand why tax act takes several forms to complete, the main of which has more than a hundred questions. We do not understand why we are required to formally confirm moving out of one permanent address to move in to another, as if councils could not communicate with each other without our intervention (not to mention that the necessity to have a permanent address is itself absurd enough.)

There is not a trace in us of that humble acceptance displayed by our parents, who were convinced that administrative issues were of utmost importance and who considered interaction with the state as something to be celebrated. We do not feel that respect, rooted in the distance between the lonely citizen and the majestic heights where the ruling class reside, barely visible through the clouds. Our view of the social structure is different from yours: society is a network, not a hierarchy. We are used to being able to start a dialogue with anyone, be it a professor or a pop star, and we do not need any special qualifications related to social status. The success of the interaction depends solely on whether the content of our message will be regarded as important and worthy of reply. And if, thanks to cooperation, continuous dispute, defending our arguments against critique, we have a feeling that our opinions on many matters are simply better, why would we not expect a serious dialogue with the government?

We do not feel a religious respect for ‘institutions of democracy’ in their current form, we do not believe in their axiomatic role, as do those who see ‘institutions of democracy’ as a monument for and by themselves. We do not need monuments. We need a system that will live up to our expectations, a system that is transparent and proficient. And we have learned that change is possible: that every uncomfortable system can be replaced and is replaced by a new one, one that is more efficient, better suited to our needs, giving more opportunities.

What we value the most is freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of access to information and to culture. We feel that it is thanks to freedom that the Web is what it is, and that it is our duty to protect that freedom. We owe that to next generations, just as much as we owe to protect the environment.

Perhaps we have not yet given it a name, perhaps we are not yet fully aware of it, but I guess what we want is real, genuine democracy. Democracy that, perhaps, is more than is dreamt of in your journalism.

This piece is published under CC-BY-SA 3.0. Originally published on February 11, 2012, in The Baltic Daily, a local Polish newspaper (Dziennik Bałtycki). Free to reproduce as long as the author is credited.

Translated into English by Marta Szreder.

You've read the whole article. Why not subscribe to the RSS flow using your favorite reader, or even have articles delivered by mail?

About The Author: Piotr Czerski

Piotr Czerski (a pseudonym), also known as *c, is a Polish poet and writer born in 1981. He graduated from Computer Science at the Technical University of Gdansk, and has also studied philosophy at the University of Gdansk.

Liked This?

TRANSLATIONS AVAILABLE
This article is also available in other languages: German, German, Polish, Spanish, French, Estonian, Swedish, Czech.

By participating in the discussion and posting here, you are placing your contribution in the public domain (CC0). If you are quoting somebody else, credit them.

Contributors take own responsibility for their comments.

26

  1. 2
    Rayjoha

    I have never read or seen anything as incredible as this. OK – Edgar Allen Poe, Beatles and Man U. But..nothing as good as this. Describing the way the world is – really is. This guy, thirty years before his peers. Simply incredible. If I were a business man selling to those under 40 years old I would read this 30 times. Maybe the record industry an hollywood should too. And..Life is good!

  2. […] addthis_share = [];} autor: Piotr Czerski <[email protected]> Marta Szreder’i ingliskeelsest tõlkest eesti keelde tõlkinud Peeter P. Mõtsküla […]

  3. 3
    Tor

    I think this quote is interesting:

    “One more thing: we do not want to pay for our memories. The films that remind us of our childhood, the music that accompanied us ten years ago: in the external memory network these are simply memories. Remembering them, exchanging them, and developing them is to us something as natural as the memory of ‘Casablanca’ is to you. 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.

    I was actually thinking of writing a blog post along these lines. There are two main points here I think:
    1) A person’s identity and the culture with which he or she was raised becomes intertwined. Locking up culture in the longer run is hence tantamount to denying people access to a part of their own identity. To say that all the value is embedded in the work itself (and solely attributable to its copyright owner) and none in the relations and identities it fosters and helps to form seems strange to me.
    2) If we want works to be preserved and developed upon who better to do that than those who in their youth were profoundly influenced by said works.

    These are important things to consider when determining the right copyright term. Or as a Techdirt user put it yesterday in a comment: “If the copyright on something can extend from 40 years before I was born to 40 years after I’m dead, it’s pretty much the same as eternal as far as I’m concerned.”

  4. 4
    oztaurus

    … and some of “us” web kids are 53 and embraced this mindset long before there was a technology to support it. Our schools and education paradigm needs to shift from the “sage on the stage” to acknowledging this external storage/internal search and filter model of knowledge. We need to teach less “stuff” and more techniques for finding, analyzing, evaluating and integrating stuff

  5. […] har även återpublicerats på tyska på Zeitonline. Vi som översatte till svenska från den engelska versionen var Emma Marie Andersson, Jan Lindgren, Christer Jansson, Emil Isberg och Rick […]

  6. […] har även återpublicerats på tyska på Zeitonline. Vi som översatte till svenska från den engelska versionen var Emma Marie Andersson, Jan Lindgren, Christer Jansson, Emil Isberg och Rick Falkvinge. Share […]

  7. […] his political blog, Rickard Falkvinge, shares an interesting opinion piece by Piotr Czerski, where the difference between the “Internet Generation” and older people is explored. […]

  8. […] BoingBoing.net TheAtlantic.com Reddit Falkvinge.net Comment […]

  9. 6
    Anonymous

    Bravo. You sum it up perfectly! In my opinion this is a 5-star article – well done.

  10. 7
    anonymous

    This is beautiful. I’m over 40 and I’ve felt this way my whole life. Young people today give me so much hope for the future and for my own son. We WILL all be free. It’s coming.

  11. 8
    Putte

    I just love this quote:

    “We do not feel that respect, rooted in the distance between the lonely citizen and the majestic heights where the ruling class reside, barely visible through the clouds.”

  12. […] under a Creative Commons Uznanie autorstwa-Na tych samych warunkach 3.0 Unported License. – via falkvinge.net – překlad Mum alAthin – licence […]

  13. 9
    Ninja

    Epic win. It touched me straight in the heart. I can’t picture a life without the internet, it’s part of me and yet it’s greater than me and I’m greater than it.

    Words fail me. Simply brilliant.

  14. 10

    You have written a really articulate mini manifesto here, it truly covers the broad spectrum of Internet culture. I am a web kid, sure I might not be much of a kid any more, but I spent my formative years online and that greatly influence me. I identify more with “Internet people around the world on social issues than I do with most of the people in my own country. I believe that freedom of speech is more important than copyright or ensuring children’s safety online. Children should be safe on the Internet, unless they are allowed unrestricted access to it by their parents. Parents should be responsible for their children just as copyright holders should be responsible for defending those copyrights, and not lobby governments to enforce unjust legislature.

    I look forward to a point in time when the Internet is recognised as a sovereign nation, and we can become citizens of the Internet, the Netizens. Then the Internet will be treated with the respect it deserves.

  15. […] Czerski’s poetic manifesto, “We, the Web Kids” — short and sweet but truly golden at its core — explains our generation’s […]

  16. […] grew up with this new technology. Tapscott and Williams aren’t alone either. In his manifesto “We, The Web Kids”, Piotr Czerski whimsically claims he counted 12 new ‘generations’ in the press in the last ten […]

  17. […] We, The Web Kids Freedom of Speech – Piotr CzerskiWe, The Web Kids Freedom of Speech – Piotr Czerski http://falkvinge.net/2012/02/25/we-the-web-kids/ […]

  18. 12
    Eve

    I love this. It’s how I felt growing up and how I feel now. I wonder if a big part of it is the wonder/vision that is often attributed to children- certainly something I felt as a child- the vision being that information is free, should be free, as children don’t know or expect information to be anything other than free, so sharing (to a certain extent) comes naturally to them.

Add a Comment

× 9 = 81  

On Facebook

Popular Articles

US Capitol Buildings
23

Quality Legislation – Nozomi Hayase

Quality Legislation – Nozomi Hayase

handcuffs
22

Quality Legislation – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Quality Legislation – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Open water - Photo by Flickr user elisfanclub
8

Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Reflections – Zacqary Adam Xeper

liberator
8

Civil Liberties – Christian Engström

Civil Liberties – Christian Engström

More in Freedom of Speech

"God Hates Signs" next to "God Hates Fags" protesters
8

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Freedom of Speech – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Valve mechanism
96

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

Dandelion seed
16

Freedom of Speech – Christian Engström

Freedom of Speech – Christian Engström

Gagged Person, CC-BY-SA, ashleyrosex at Flickr
16

Freedom of Speech – Andrew Lee

Freedom of Speech – Andrew Lee

A poster of Joe Arpaio proud of being associated with the KKK. CC-BY-NC-ND by katerkate
6

Freedom of Speech – Andrew "K`Tetch" Norton

Freedom of Speech – Andrew "K`Tetch" Norton

Other Recent Headlines

Bitcoin concept
13

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

Cryptocurrency – Nozomi Hayase

PyramidCapital
29

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Screenshot from Librep-2014-08-10-take1.mp4
10

Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties

Librep July 12 frame
32

Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties

Money cut into pieces - Photo by Flickr user Tax Credits
80

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

colorblindflag
23

United States – Zacqary Adam Xeper

United States – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Adobe the leech - original photo by OakleyOriginals on Flickr
171

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

peter_sunde_0237
14

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

Swarm Economy – Lionel Dricot

solarroad
16

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

European Parliament
71

Pirate Parties

Pirate Parties

About The Author

Piotr Czerski (a pseudonym), also known as *c, is a Polish poet and writer born in 1981. He graduated from Computer Science at the Technical University of Gdansk, and has also studied philosophy at the University of Gdansk.

More On Infopolicy

NSA Seal Holding the Heartbleed Logo
40

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Infrastructure – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Bitcoin concept by Antanacoins. CC-By-SA, Flickr.
42

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

Cryptocurrency – Charlie Shrem

Bottles of Snake Oil - Photo by Jagrap on Flickr
29

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Copyright Monopoly – Zacqary Adam Xeper

facebook
12

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

523377_63619557
4

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

Infopolicy – Henrik Brändén

photo_10071_20090418-646x363
71

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

Copyright Monopoly – David Collier-Brown

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_Maryland_public_domain_image
155

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

Infopolicy – Christian Engström

Many different currencies - CC photo by epSos.de
45

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Diversity – Zacqary Adam Xeper

le_tresor_rackham_le_rouge_1280x1024
11

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Copyright Monopoly – Lionel Dricot

Books before copyright
99

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

Copyright Monopoly – Johnny Olsson

Collaborative whiteboard at OuiShare 2012, full of wonderful ideas for venture capitalists to ruin - photo by Natalie Ortiz
15

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Swarm Economy – Zacqary Adam Xeper

Border Patrol In Montana
25

Activism – Travis McCrea

Activism – Travis McCrea

Spices - Marrakech 09 Souks
58

Swarm Economy

Swarm Economy

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 7.23.12 PM
33

Copyright Monopoly – Travis McCrea

Copyright Monopoly – Travis McCrea

This publication is protected under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Sweden. Any problem you have with this publication remains exclusively yours. Accountable publisher: Rick Falkvinge.
All text on this site is Public Domain / CC0 unless specifically noted and credited otherwise. Copy, remix, and inspire. (Troll policy.)
Log in | Original theme design by Gabfire themes (heavily modified)