Bridging the generational gap in digital policy

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

– Douglas Adams

As with every generation, it is the youth that are changing the world as we know it, by challenging old beliefs, and instead are coming up with new ideas, new business models, new solutions to the challenges of modern life.  Creating a platform where young professionals who share an interest in digital policy is fundamental for us all to benefit from innovative ideas and perspectives, as well as the youth’s contagious enthusiasm.

Today’s digital era, with the ubiquitous use of social media, the reduced transaction costs of the sharing economy, and the new development of apps, is changing the way we live, socialise, consume, and do business.  The speed of the digital revolution has widened the generation gap even further.

For Millennials, it is a natural way of living, we understand technology and the Internet as an enabler, as a means to chat with friends from far and wide, but also to develop new projects, collaborate on new ideas, in a world where geographical distance becomes irrelevant.

11 years ago, a young university student launched a social media platform from his dormitory in Harvard University.  10 years ago, Twitter had not been born yet.  Big data, Internet of Things, the App Economy and autonomous vehicles were concepts few talked about five years ago.

The speed with which all these have come to life and spread exponentially is both amazing and incomparable with any other revolution in history.

Now, from a policy perspective, governments struggle to face this new normal.  Technological developments are oftentimes outpacing policy decisions of governments around the world.   And Europe is no exception.

The average age of tech entrepreneurs tends to lie somewhere in the region of 30 years old, while the average age of the Members of the European Parliament is 55 and our digital commissioners are even older.  And while one doesn’t have to be young to be a techie, it probably helps!

Thus, it is hardly surprising that the success stories of the digital era have created a lot of excitement, enthusiasm, but also fear and panic at the sheer speed and unpredictability of all these tech developments.  And while we should take some time to reflect on legitimate concerns and challenges that every innovation brings, we should also embrace technology.

It is in this context that the idea of linking young professionals working on digital policy in Europe was born.  The overall objective of Young Professionals in Digital Policy (YPDP) is to be a platform where the next generation of professionals and policy leaders can discuss and shape EU digital policy. YPDP is comprised of over 200 professionals working in the EU institutions, national governments, industry, and civil society.

We welcome your involvement in YPDP and your voice in shaping Europe’s digital policy!

Christian Borggreen / Sabina Ciofu / Christian Wagner

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