Tag Archives: The New Tribalism

Thoughts on the Web, Circa 2013


As you may have noticed, this website has a new theme. I love this theme, called Twentytwelve, despite it being the default theme for WordPress.com, which likely makes it the single most popular theme on the planet.

I will likely make a few more changes, personalize the design some more, add back the iconic header image, and the like, but… the experience of re-skinning my website triggered something else for me. I felt as if I should write it out with you all, so I can know what I’m thinking when I read it later.

Basically, changing the theme to Notorious made me realize how much the Web has changed over the past few years, and… well, I’m feeling a little bit wistful, I have to admit.

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Cluetrain, Derailed: Double Consciousness of the Social Age

For the past several years, I’ve been an alumnus interviewer for my alma mater, Yale University. Yale has a program like many other schools where people who have actually been there spend time with an applicant to try to determine not their academic credentials or their track record of achievements, but simply what he or she is like as a person, and how well he or she would fit into the campus environment.

In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed something really odd. Keep in mind that because I’m interviewing for Yale, the 17 and 18 year olds I’m talking to are among the brightest and best the country has to offer. Every single young woman and young man is incredibly smart, extremely motivated, accomplished beyond their years (one young woman had played at Carnegie Hall and had a classical record deal), and extraordinary in their composure and behavior. As a parent, I could only imagine the pride their parents must feel in these well-behaved, brilliant children.

But… in speaking to one after another, I came away thinking that these kids must have zero free time. Since I don’t have their transcript and don’t know what their SAT’s are, or anything like it, all I want to know is what these kids do for fun. They all, every single one in the past few years, do the exact same things for fun: hang out with friends, read, play music, sports…. They all go to films, not movies, telling me how much they enjoy independent cinema, or foreign films, or classic Hollywood films. And these are 17 year old boys and girls.

I’m left wondering, what, you don’t play video games? You don’t go on dates? Even though you’re 17, you don’t like going to the mall with your girlfriends to flirt with boys? No party at a friend’s house when the parents are out of town?

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