I was sitting in my blue bathrobe one gray afternoon when I realized the Splinter Generation was going to save the world. The US markets had closed a few minutes earlier and I had MSNBC on in the background.
The night before, channel-surfing to the Science Channel, I discovered that a former classmate and Splinter Jeff Lieberman (b. 1978) has his own show in which he uses advanced digital cameras to capture violent impacts – ie., smashy-smashy! – in the tradition of Harold Edgerton.
Feeling a bit defensive, I put on the PBS NewsHour and saw another Splinter classmate, Jodi Beggs (b. 1980?), lecturing to economists 3 or 4 times her age. It was something about behavioral economics but all I remember was the stuff about sex.
I should be ashamed of myself. I was sitting there waiting for my pizza while 39-year-old Jennifer Wright was inventing a pizza box that breaks apart into plates. She’s not quite Splinter, but I propose the Pizza Clause: help college students that much and you’re in.
Then I chanced to look up and see favorite blogger and Splinter Andrew Ross Sorkin (b. 1977) debunking the myth that unforeseeable problems in complex financial instruments were solely responsible for the Great Recession (of course the primary cause was greed).
Those credit derivatives (the ones no one understood) were in fact well-understood by Harvard Grad student and 24-year-old Splinter A.K. Barnett-Hart, whose graduate thesis elucidated the all-too-obvious pitfalls and inspired Michael Lewis (who really should have his own website) to write The Big Short.
So I may not be pulling my weight in terms of contributing to global solutions, but I can google pretty well, can’t I? Thank you, Larry and Sergei (b. 1973) for giving a fellow Splinter so much access to information (and pr0n).
And while we’re at it, we can thank Splinters Chad Hurley (b. 1976) and Steve Chen (b. 1978) for YouTube. Surprise Kitty, or surprise kiddies? But there’s still no excuse for Surprise Human.Can we impeach Splinters who abuse their privileges? I’m talking to you, Jack Dorsey of Twitter (b. 1976).
Not all Splinters find their natural habitat in the internets, however. Rory Stewart (b.1973), for example, gave up Google and YouTube – along with trains, cars and air conditioning – when he walked Afghanistan end to end (read: Forrest Gump with Kalashnikovs?) in researching his book The Places In Between.
Like me, Jessica Jackley (b. 1977) chose to (co-)save the world from the comfort of her living room by co-founding Kiva, a micro-finance site kind of like Facebook except with redeeming social value. And while I was complaining that nothing of use could come from social networking sites, Iranian Splinters proved me wrong in the wake of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan (1982 – 2009).
We’ve still got a ways to go before some resourceful Splinter figures out how to reverse global climate change and save the economy while feeding the world’s poor and ensuring their human rights, it’s true. And we’re getting pushback from the past like never before.
But with sexy Splinter rebels like Levi Johnston and, well, me (still in bathrobe), how can we lose?
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