a child of the online generation

I often wonder what it must be like being a child of the online generation.

How will it change your outlook never knowing life before the web. What vistas will open up to them? How does it impact your psyche having always had information at your fingertips? What kind of consumers will they become? What kind of employees and entrepreneurs? What kind of social activists?

According to this article in the Australian Financial Review (subscription required), Aussie kids are more likely to visit educational websites than porn.

Kids are "much more about connecting into their tribe, communicating with one another, finding a way forward, being very focused on what they have to do to get ahead in the world, which shows much more in common with their grandparents. There's a seriousness about them in thinking about what they've got to do to prepare themselves for the world". That seriousness shows up right through the statistics on internet usage.

I know that I am a much better educated citizen as result of having been online for a decade. I'm also a much savvier consumer. A few clicks will usually bring me a lot closer to knowing a lot more about any company’s products or services. It also helps me get better prices than I would in a store, as I confirmed again recently when I bought a new digital camera.

The era of being able to hide behind a cloak of marketing spend seems to be rapidly coming to a close. When the teenagers of today hit their spending prime, are they going to demand a greater level of honesty and transparency from the businesses whose products and services they support? Or is this just left-over dot com hubris?

One of the ideas I’ve been toying with over the last couple of years is a rating service for all products and services. What if you could rate out of five stars, Amazon-style, any product or service you used from any party? And what if these ratings were accessible by a web service?

Imagine you were going to engage the services of a building contractor. Before you hired someone, you looked up their rating on the ratings service, to find out how the last 100 people who used them rated their service out of five stars. You might use that to determine whether or not you trusted them with your work. And if you did engage a contractor, they might have a new reason to try to meet your expectations. If they know you have a means of rating them which is discoverable by potential customers, they might try harder to turn up on time and deliver high quality workmanship.

Actually, you could tie this is with the music blog idea a few of us were discussing recently. You could rate new music that you discover through someone’s music blog and let the market decide who they want to support with their dollars.