I’m in Huntington, Long Island, getting ready for a talk at the Book Revue tonight at 8 p.m. I spoke to a group of YA and children’s librarians earlier today in Syosset. The Q&A; was interesting. There was definitely concern around our cultural obsession with fame and how the internet is fueling that for teens as well as the desire (expressed by another librarian) to share the accomplishments of teens like Ashley Qualls, who have used the internet to launch their own companies or publications as inspiration for other teens who may need it. It made me think about the notion of fame or wanting recognition. There’s wanting to be famous for being famous, a trend many attribute to heiress/ex-con Paris Hilton and the other starlets and reality TV stars who are all hungry for their “moment.” Then there are people who are entrepreneurial, who are starters of things, launchers of blogs and websites either intentionally or accidentally. Some of them end up liking the spotlight that comes with success and others may want to stay behind the scenes. The more stories of these young entrepreneurs we can share with young people (whether they become millionaires or just start something cool), the more we can inspire them to seek out a different kind of potential “fame,” one more lasting and less transient. I also think it’s important to talk about how Ashley hired her friends — teens she trusts to help run her company. Not every teen is going to be a leader or founder, but those who are, can’t do it alone.
I led a workshop once for teens at 826 Valencia in San Francisco on how to launch a magazine (gasp, seems so dated now). I based it off of the magazine final project graduate students complete at the Medill School of Journalism. The teens broke up into groups and each came up with a fully thought out concept for a magazine from the pub’s personality, cover lines and table of contents to how they would market it. You could do this type of workshop with any group of teens (and about magazines, websites, video games, etc.) — letting them dream up their own media idea or project. It’s also a great way to teach teens about the media business and teach media literacy (why do you need ads? which ads will you accept)?
I’ll be posting sporadic reflections and thoughts while I’m on the road as part of the Totally Wired Tour.