It’s you. The person reading this right now. In fact, those of you who are avid blog readers, writers, and commenters are an even bigger part than others.
Here’s a brief summary of the article- lots of things happened in 2006, but one of the biggest was the general explosion of user-created on-line content. YouTube and MySpace and Facebook and even Wikipedia. And straying a little farther from the Internet there’s user-generated software like Linux.
I don’t usually blog about magazine articles here. But I am so, so excited after reading this, because open-source is quite possibly my favorite thing. Ever.
Seriously. I’ve been writing some form of a blog since I was in the 8th grade. I think wikis are brilliant creations- not just Wikipedia itself, but smaller, themed wikis as well. Yes, just like Weird Al, I edit wikipedia.
And speaking of Weird Al- even our music is being influenced by this fancy thing called the Internet. Smaller bands can get their music out there for anyone to listen to. I know I have Ben’s band on my iPod. =P
One of my favorite books ever is The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Joe Trippi. He was Howard Dean’s campaign manager in the 2004 presidential campaign. I highly recommend this book to anyone- no matter where your political opinions lie. (I personally am an independent- I think political parties are too busy hating each other to get it right more than half the time.) If you disagree with the political left, you may find yourself rolling your eyes every once in awhile (I know I did), but even though the book follows the trajectory of Howard Dean’s campaign, that’s not what it’s about.
It’s about the oxymoron of the 21st century- national grass-roots efforts. It’s about how people from all over the country who felt disenfranchised by their government were able to turn on a computer and actually help run the campaign of the man they wanted in the White House. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want the same guy to win- it’s the method that matters. It didn’t even matter so much that they lost in the end- it mattered that these people were able to care about politics again, were able to feel as if they were in control of their own government, like they should be.
Nothing gets me more excited than grass-roots. I get excited by other people being excited. I would be thrilled if 10,000 more young voters went to the polls and all voted against what I believed in, just because I wish people in this country would actually vote!
I’m filing this entry under the “MIT’s Mission: Who We Are” for a couple of reasons. One is pretty simple- I go to MIT, and this is who I am. I can’t say for sure, but this aspect of my personality was probably one of the reasons that my application was sorted into the admit pile. Because the truth, and my second reason, is that this is what MIT is, at its core.
Hacking and open-source both have deep roots at MIT. (I always get kind of annoyed when people outside of MIT laugh at us for calling pranks “hacks.” It’s like, “hey, we created the word, we can use it however we want!”)
People here are very much into taking things apart, seeing how they work, and using that knowledge as power.
We want to change the world with knowledge, and with the Internet, we can redistribute knowledge and trade and expand it millions of times more quickly than ever before. You can see that all over MIT- our podcasts (like Zig-Zag), OpenCourseWare, even the blog I’m writing right now. These are all our attempts to overcome the obstacles of the past- time, space, wealth- and remake the world with the power of information.
That’s MIT’s Mission. And that’s what makes us excited to be here.