Middlebury

Millennial Generation and social networking to be topic of DigitalBridges2007 Conference Jan. 27

January 17, 2007

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - On Saturday, Jan. 27, from 9:15 a.m. - 6:45 p.m., a group of Middlebury College students will join the public for "DigitalBridges2007: Here Come the Millennials!" An annual conference sponsored by DigitalBridges2.0, this year's DigitalBridges2007 will address key issues in which the Internet continues to drive change in society and the economy. "Here Come the Millennials" will focus particularly on how this generation, born between 1977 and 2000, is shaking up everything from politics to business, and even creating an entirely new phenomenon called venture philanthropy. Venture philanthropreneurs, political analysts and consultants, and Internet and technology company executives will participate in a series of five sessions throughout the day.

All events will take place in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). The events are free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. Refreshments will be served throughout the day.

Organized by Michael Claudon, Middlebury College professor of economics, the conference is the product of the work of the 15 students enrolled in his Winter Term course, "DigitalBridges2007." To develop and present the event, the students collaborated with mentors and panelists drawn from DigitalBridges2.0's growing network of Middlebury College alumni, parents and friends whose goal is to provide Middlebury students with real-world business experience. Participants will investigate how Millennials and technology are making politics digital, blurring the lines between philanthropy and business, and changing how business is done and where business opportunities and threats can now be found. Questions and discussion from the audience will be encouraged at all of the panel discussions.

According to Claudon, who is the director of the DigitalBridges2.0 program, the Millennial Generation includes pre-teens through twenty-somethings. These digital natives assume technological literacy and live online, having grown up using technology such as computers, the Internet, cell phones, text messaging and blogging. "They are wildly different than their Generation X parents, and are redefining everything from how we socialize, learn and characterize careers to how we elect candidates for public office. They are changing traditional approaches to life itself," said Claudon. "The Millennials are porting an ever-larger share of their offline lives and habits onto the Web. Tapping into this new generation depends upon how well politicians and enterprises understand the evolution of social networking in general, and the Millennials in particular."

Claudon explains that the Internet arenas MySpace.com, YouTube.com and FaceBook.com are but three examples of how Millennials are increasingly living their lives online. He says that Second Life, a virtual 3D world entirely built, owned and inhabited by nearly 2 million residents, has grown explosively since it opened to the public in 2003, and that Gaia Online, with more than 5 million registered users - more than half of whom are between the ages of 13 and 16 - is the largest, English speaking, online forum in the world. "Together with social networking, blogging represents a virtual tsunami on the Web. Since the term was coined in 1997, 'blogs' have morphed from self-indulgent hobbies to flourishing businesses. There are about 50 million of them - two new ones are being launched every second," he said.

According to Claudon, blogging is challenging everything from music and entertainment through advertising and even academic publishing as the new phenomenon.

Claudon further believes the line between philanthropy and business is blurring as never before. He describes philanthropreneurs - who seek to do social good with profit - as representatives of a new generation of philanthropists. "Philanthropreneurs are, for the most part, young billionaires who have reaped the benefits of capitalism and believe that it can be applied in the service of solving social ills," Claudon said. "Additionally, nonprofit philanthroventuring - or social entrepreneurship - is fostering and funding collaboration among researchers, companies and government."

On Saturday, Jan. 27, "DigitalBridges2007: Here Come the Millennials" will begin at 9:15 a.m. with introductory remarks by Claudon. At 9:30 a.m., three Middlebury College students from Claudon's course will present "Social Networking (Our Digital Life) - The Millennials Unite." The panel of students will demonstrate the Millennial lifestyle with the tools and techniques such as blogging and text messaging that  they use for social networking, entertainment and research.

Middlebury College Professor of Political Science Eric Davis will be a panelist for the session titled "Digital Politics: Fundraising, Campaigning and Mobilization."

From 11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m., a panel discussion titled "Digital Politics: Fundraising, Campaigning and Mobilization" will showcase Facebook.com; YouTube.com; MySpace.com; blogs, podcasts and Web sites of political figures. Participants in this discussion will be Eric Davis, Middlebury College professor of political science; Karl Frisch, director of media relations for Media Matters for America, a political organization based in Washington, D.C.; Michael Silberman, a member of the Middlebury class of 2002 and co-founder, director and senior strategist of EchoDitto, an online firm that serves as a guide for the creative use of emerging technologies for nonprofits, corporations, political candidates and organizations, and elected officials; and Adrian Talbott, co-founder and executive director of Generation Engage, a nonpartisan, youth civic engagement initiative headquartered in Washington, D.C.

From 1:45 - 3:15 p.m. a panel discussion titled "Venture Philanthropy: Doing Good with Profit" will discuss the new generation of philanthropists - or philanthropreneurs - in the service of social good. Panel members include Jim Laughlin, director of communications for Life is good, Inc.; Elizabeth Glenshaw, director of CI Market and Industry Development for Calvert Social Investment Foundation, a Bethesda, Md.-based enterprise that seeks to work in disadvantaged communities with local partner nonprofits to provide the investment capital for people to work themselves out of poverty; Ward Fowler, partner of Alterra Coffee Roasters and a member of the Middlebury class of 1986; and Lincoln Fowler, partner of Alterra Coffee Roasters and a member of the Middlebury class of 1989.

From 3:30 - 5 p.m., a panel discussion titled "Business Opportunities and Challenges" will focus on the competitive strategy of firms entering the Millennial craze - the leveraging by smaller businesses of the tools used by the Millennial Generation; understanding the global marketplace; launching growing ventures; and using marketing techniques such as blogging for dollars, Google and Fuse Integrated Sports Marketing. Panelists will be Tom Kottler, a member of the Middlebury class of 1984 who is chief executive officer and managing member of VeinAid, based in Fairfield, Conn.; Brian Schmidt, a member of the Middlebury class of 1997 who is manager of the National Agency Team at Google; and Chris Charron, emerging technology advisor and former group president of Business-to-Consumer Technology Research at Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company based in Cambridge, Mass.

From 5:15 - 6:45 p.m. the conference will close with a town meeting discussion titled "What Have We Learned and What Does It Mean?" The culminating event will summarize the key points from the four earlier sessions. Maureen Ellenberger, entrepreneurial advisor and venture consultant based in Concord, Mass., will serve as moderator. Panelists, selected from the four earlier sessions, will be Charron, Laughlin, Schmidt and Talbott.

For more information or to make reservations, contact conference coordinator MariAnn Osborne of Middlebury College at mosborne@middlebury.edu or 802-443-5435. On Jan. 27, the DigitalBridges2.0 Web site, http://www.digitalbridges20.net/annualconference.htm, will also include the complete proceedings of the conference, and student-authored reports will be available for viewing following the conference.

Events Listing:
DigitalBridges2007: Here Come the Millennials

Saturday, Jan. 27
9:15 - 9:30 a.m.  Welcome and introductory remarks by Middlebury College Professor of Economics and Director of DigitalBridges2.0 Michael Claudon.

9:30 - 11 a.m.  Panel Discussion:  "Social Networking (Our Digital Life) - The Millennials Unite"  This session will discuss trends and the reasons they exist. Panelists include three students from the Winter Term course titled "DigitalBridges2007" who will demonstrate the Millennial lifestyle with the tools and techniques such as blogging and text messaging that they use for social networking, entertainment and research.

11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.  Panel Discussion: "Digital Politics: Fundraising, Campaigning and Mobilization"  The session will showcase how information technology and the Millennial Generation are changing the political landscape. Examples will include Facebook.com, YouTube.com, MySpace.com, blogs, podcasts and Web sites of political figures. Panelists: Eric Davis, Middlebury College professor of political science; Karl Frisch, director of media relations for Media Matters for America; Michael Silberman, a member of the Middlebury class of 2002 who is co-founder, director and senior strategist of EchoDitto; and Adrian Talbott, co-founder and executive director of Generation Engage.

1:45 - 3:15 p.m.  Panel Discussion: "Venture Philanthropy: Doing Good with Profit"  The session will explore how the line between philanthropy and business is being blurred by a new generation of venture philanthropists bent on doing good with profits, and how it is revolutionizing traditional philanthropy. Panelists: Jim Laughlin, director of communications for Life is good, Inc.; Elizabeth Glenshaw, director of CI Market and Industry Development for Calvert Social Investment Foundation; Ward Fowler, partner of Alterra Coffee Roasters and a member of the Middlebury class of 1986; and Lincoln Fowler, partner of Alterra Coffee Roasters and a member of the Middlebury class of 1989.

3:30 - 5 p.m.  Panel Discussion: "Business Opportunities and Challenges"  The session will investigate how mass collaboration is turning the competitive strategy of firms entering the Millennial craze upside down - the leveraging by smaller businesses of the tools used by the Millennial Generation; understanding the global marketplace; launching growing ventures; and using marketing techniques such as blogging for dollars, Google and Fuse Integrated Sports Marketing. Panelists: Tom Kottler of the Middlebury class of 1984 who is the chief executive officer and managing member of VeinAid; Brian Schmidt of the Middlebury class of 1997 who is manager of the National Agency Team at Google; and Chris Charron, emerging technology advisor and former group vice president of Business-to-Consumer Technology Research for Forrester Research.

5:15 - 6:45 p.m.  Town Meeting: "What Have We Learned and Where Do We Go From Here?"  The final session will be held in the style of a town meeting to summarize the key points from the four pervious sessions. Moderated by Maureen Ellenberger, an entrepreneurial advisor and venture consultant. Panelists will be drawn from members of previous sessions: Chris Charron, emerging technology advisor and former group vice president of Business-to-Consumer Technology Research for Forrester Research; Jim Laughlin, director of communications for Life is good, Inc.; Brian Schmidt, manager of the National Agency Team at Google, and a member of the Middlebury class of 1997; and Adrian Talbott, co-founder and executive director of Generation Engage.

All events will take place in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, on Bicentennial Way off Route 125. "DigitalBridges2007: Here Come the Millennials" is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. For more information or to make reservations, contact conference coordinator MariAnn Osborne at mosborne@middlebury.edu, or by phone at 802-443-5435.