Generation Share

“Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.” – George Orwell

When people talk about Generation Y or the Net Generation, they’re almost talking about me, although I think technically, I’m part of Generation X.  I’m a little too young to really fall into Generation X, and a little too old to relate to Generation Y, so I think I have an interesting–though far from unique perspective. I feel a bit more like an observer.

I was just thinking about all the applications out there that are designed to share information and collaborate: Limewire, Google docs, Scribd, YoutubeFlicker, Wikipedia, Facebook, etc. and I know that a lot of people –and I don’t want to make this an age thing, but let’s admit, it is a generational thing– are a little turned off by this. It’s invasive. But the idea of sharing information seems to be something that the younger generation take for granted. Why would I keep something I made or thought about to myself when I can share it with other people and get instant feedback? There are definitely dangers inherent in this, I won’t argue that, but this isn’t a post about internet safety.

Thinking back to conversations I’ve had with other teachers, some have them have candidly expressed an unwillingness to share their lesson plans and ideas. “I worked so hard on it,” one teacher said to me. “I don’t want someone else taking it and screwing it up, or taking credit for work they didn’t do.”

I understand that sentiment completely , maybe because I’m not part of Generation Y. But I suspect that this sentiment isn’t as common with younger people because they have grown up in an age where information is accessible all the time, and where you don’t have to be picked up by a publisher in order to be published.

Are our students better at sharing than we are? If so, what will the implications be?