I enjoyed a great article by New Yorker staff writer Joan Acocella in the latest issue of Smithsonian magazine. Her subject was her experience with New Yorkers and why they many believe they are smarter (and per chance more rude) than other Americans. Though I’m sure she didn’t realize it, I think she may very well have also been describing characteristics of those active in the on-line world.
Here are some of those things that Ms. Acocella points out differentiate New Yorkers from the rest of the population that also apply to New Mediarati (Nice made up word, huh?).
New Yorkers are people who left another place to come to New York, “looking for something, which suggests that the population is preselected for higher energy and ambition. Who on the web is not from somewhere else? Okay, maybe a few that have become far too involved in Second Life think they are from the web, but most who are really into this space are very ambitious and entrepreneurial. Just follow a few sites like Mashable and TechCrunch and you’ll see you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a startup. My experience with these folks in-person has proven to me that they are incredibly high energy.
The article points out that New Yorkers are willing to forgo basic comforts, instead willing to share the the amenities. Again, you can’t be more into sharing than the open source movement. Many New Mediarati will choose to live on Raman noodles as long as they have a smokin’ laptop…so they can share online.
According to Ms. Acocella, it’s possible that New Yorkers just appear smarter because they make less separation between private and public life. Bingo! Is this true of those online geeks we all know or what? Face it, we’re willing to spill our guts out in blogs, a Facebook page, or the odd tweet on Twitter, something we would have never done as little as 5 years ago. All of this to share knowledge with anyone willing to listen or read. Just like New Yorkers, Mediarati like to be experts. And as, Aocella points out, “all people like to be experts.”
Why do these two groups, who share so much, behave this way? Why, as pointed out in this Smithsonian article, do they go against psychological principles, the ones that say being bombarded by so much stimuli causes most to recede into themselves and ignore others? Well, there are some of “those” people in both camps, most however share a sense of common cause. For New Yorkers it manifests it self on the street, for Mediarati it happens online.
To me, the similarities are striking and really emphasizes how the online world really is a community…a big ol’ mother of a community…but one that brings so many different types together in one world.