Nick Cohen put its well in tonight's London Evening Standard:
The global recession will hit everyone but not equally. The extent ofthe pain will depend on how much debt you are in. Too many of today's young Londoners are members of what the think-tank Reform calls the "iPod generation" "Insecure, Pressured, Over-taxed and Debt-ridden" and they are looking terrifyingly vulnerable.
This "terrifyingly vulnerable" Gen iPod has, of course, bought into all the most seductive mythology about the digital world. Not only are they the most technologically wired and financially indebted generation in history, but they are also the most ideologically misguided -- having stupidly bought into the open-source myth, with its childish conceit that it is noble to give away one's labor for free. Thus not only is Gen iPod insecure, pressured and debt-ridden, but -- as I argued today on InternetEvolution (also see my interview today on Wired) -- they are also the misguided masses who have been pouring their labor into Wikipedia, Wikia and all those other "property is theft" open-culture social networks.
It is, therefore, no coincidence that Jimmy Wales' open-source search engine experiment, Wikia, has seen a dramatic reduction in its contributions over the last month (just look at the plunge of that red line). The steeper the credit crunch, the bigger the drop in the numbers of people willing to line Wales' pockets with their free labor. From a average of over five thousand daily contributors at the beginning of September, the number of daily contributors has now dropped to just over a thousand.
And so Gen iPod has finally woken up to the free labor fraud. My fear, however, is that it's too little, too late. That plunging red line is symbolic of Gen iPod's crushed dreams. Not only are they financially broke, but also their digital idealism has been bankrupted by the great cash. With nothing to believe in and nothing to buy, to what and to whom will Gen iPod now turn?