Do teenagers know best? Are they, in their innocent ignorance, wiser than adults? Should we rely on them for the (obvious) truth about the nature of things?
This week The Wall Street Journal put on "All Things Digital", a show about the impact of the digital world on our lives. Produced by Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher and held at a luxury Four Seasons resort outside San Diego, it was an exclusive, sold-out event for the A List of media and entertainment executives. Speakers included Bill Gates, Al Gore and the CEOs of Sony, Kodak, Disney and Yahoo.
Any guesses as to how, after a couple of days of all things D in the Southern Californian sunshine, the event climaxed? With a powerpoint, perhaps, by Al Gore about digital democracy... Or maybe Steve Burke, President of Comcast Cable, on why Net Neutrality sucks... Or even the philanthropic Gates on our digital obligations to the unwired...
No, no, no. This is how Jason Anders on the WSJ blog reported the climax of the show:
"After three days of interviews with various titans of the tech industry, including the kickoff session with Bill Gates , the D: conference wrapped up with a panel discussion with five California teenagers, ranging in age from 16 to 19. They discussed their favorite gadgets (iPods seem cool, but portable CD players are cheaper), social networking (Facebook rules, though it can also be fun to “pimp out” a MySpace profile) and blogging (”it seems awfully narcissistic.”)
Wow. The wisdom of Californian teenagers! The idea that the iPod is cool must have been a stunning revelation to the D crowd of media and entertainment execs, especially guys like Howard Stringer (CEO of Sony).
And what about the idea that blogging seems awfully narcissistic? I hope that idea registered with everyone from Gates and Gore to Mossberg and Swisher. Perhaps next year they will bring their event to a more appropriate conclusion with an all-adult discussion about the darker side of all things digital.