Don Tapscott has written 14 books about the digital, super-connected, hyper-collaborative world, and he has the distinct responsibility of officially kicking off Critical Crossroads, the first session of this year’s TEDGlobal conference. He gets a laugh early on: “Openness is a word denoting opportunity, possibilities, open-ended, open hearts, open source, open bar…”
Tapscott started studying children and technology 20 years ago. He admits that he thought his kids were digital prodigies, picking up every new tool with genius-level skill — only to realize to his chagrin that in fact their friends were just as adept. The net generation have been bathed in bits since birth, he says: “They have no fear of technology, because it’s in the air. It’s sort of like how I have no fear of a refrigerator.”
He turns to the topic at hand: openness. The global downturn has forced an opening up of society. Old systems are failing us — “The failure of Wall Street almost brought down capitalism,” he says — and this has made the world into a burning platform. Radical difference is our only option, and the combination of the push of both technology and demography and the pull from a broken global economy is causing the world to open up. “We’re at a turning point in human history,” he says. And he goes on to outline the open world according to four principles:
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