Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Lost Horizon, in Reason Online

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Jun 26, 1998

Posted to HotWired 26 June 98

The article cited by Wired honcho Paul Boutin offers a good reason why publications whould be responsible with their reportage. Here we have a survey which is by all accounts significantly flawed being reported as fact to a roomful of Republicans.

And it is flawed. This is argued at length elsewhere (for example, here and here). Even Virginia Postrel, who wrote the article for Reason Online, agrees, pointing to "a methodology that overemphasized owning pagers and cell phones".

Boutin's point in posting this link is of course to defend the New Wired (which he won't defend directly in the appropriate thread). The article, it seems, is a validation of Wired's identification of the 'Digital Citizen': as Postrel writes, "...the Wired survey did identify a real and important political subculture -- informed, active, and largely up for grabs."

But, of course, the New Wired - with its focus on, as its new slogan says, 'Capitalizing on the New Economy' - misses the target group completely. Insofar as there is a digital culture, it's not about money. Perhaps Boutin should have finished the article, as Postrel goes on to assert:

The people Wired identifies as the "connected" and Hewitt calls the "Party of Wealth" are in fact defined neither by their gadgets nor by their money. They have a cultural identity, a cluster of distinguishing values, and a worldview. When you ask Silicon Valley executives why they do what they do, they almost never mention money, and they certainly don't brag about their cell phones. They talk about "the ability to constantly learn new things," about "constant change, challenge, learning, growth,"about "creating something significant."
These are exactly the values and concepts the New Wired is turning away from, as demonstrated, I think quite convincingly, here.

Boutin says, "Virginia Postrel warns GOP that Wired isn't completely nuts to celebrate, rather than ignore, the technocratic demographic." Nobody, I think, argues that Wired (or anyone) should turn its back on the 'technocratic demographic'. Wired, rather, has eveolved away from that demographic, something it does at its own peril.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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