Interview with Malcolm Harris, co-Editor of “Share or Die, Voices of the Lost Generation in The Age of Crisis”

Interview with Malcolm Harris

Interview with Malcolm Harris

A 2010 IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) report entitled ” The Future of Work” contains the following paragraphs:

 “Generation Y (15-30 year-olds born between 1980 and 1995) are establishing themselves in the workforce with different assumptions about work.  Generation X (Gen-X) is the cohort currently occupying the majority of management positions in the agency world, and Generation Y (Gen-Y) will inherit an industry going through unprecedented change. Increasing knowledge and social connectivity is already changing the economics of innovation, and, in a knowledge-based economy, we might expect to see more conflict and co-existence between hierarchies and networks. This will provide opportunities for Generations X and Y to challenge the rules and guidelines from the 1950s in a more de-centralised and distributed world.”

In my last post I reviewed the new book  “Share or Die” in which Gen Y writers share their own views and experiences on many of the issues raised in those paragraphs above.

In this post I am very happy to have had the chance to interview the co-Editor of the book, Malcolm Harris.

CG: Hi Malcolm, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about “Share or Die” and the philosophy behind the book and  You mention at the beginning of the book that you received “an avalanche of personal narratives” in response to your invitation to contribute  to this  book.  What criteria did you use for making the final selection for inclusion in Share or Die?

MH: It was a tough call because there were so many worthy submissions. But ultimately when we were making final calls I was committed to get a diversity of experience and modes of expression in there. I was hoping we could reach everyone with at least one of the pieces, which meant getting comics, first-person essays, analytical essays. Even though it’s a collection, it was created as a whole, not piecemeal.

CG: In your preface you say “In order to survive and even have a chance to live, we will have to build communities of cooperation rather than competition.”    

Given that we have been living in a society for many many years where a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the healthiness and desirability of competition, what positive signs do you see that the concept of sharing and collaboration is really taking root in the US? And is this just a Gen Y  initiative in your experience or is it spreading across generations?

Interview with Malcolm Harris Share or Die

MH: A really positive sign I’m seeing is a counter-intuitive one: capitalism seems to have reached the stage where it’s in the profiteers’ best interests to set up ways for people to share, and then profit off their sharing. Obviously that’s not the ideal kind of sharing — Air BnB and Zip Car for example — but I think it sets up those networks for people to appropriate later.

CG: Who are you hoping to reach with this book and what effect would you ideally like it to have on its readership?

MH: The target audience is definitely Gen Y and anyone who wants to better understand the conditions that face its members, whether that’s school counsellors or parents. What I’m hoping people take from it is a sense that they’re not alone in their situation, that their problems are often social problems that don’t have individual solutions.

CG: In the Chapter “Generation Open” Chris Messina writes “So it’s no wonder that the Facebook newsfeed (now the “stream”) and Twitter make folks of previous generations so uneasy: the potential for abuse is so great and our generation — our open, open generation — is so beautifully naive.”   Many people are in fact are made uneasy by the perceived lack of privacy which social media brings with it. What would you say to those people about their reservations?  

 MH: I think they’re right to a certain degree: the kind of privacy we were supposed to have is on the wane, but I’m okay with that. I hope our ability to be easily scandalized goes down with it. But there’s also the point that this privacy never really existed for everyone, it always had to be bought. And, for example, women being harassed on the sidewalk for walking in public never have the chance to buy.

CG: Is there one person or organisation which originally inspired or continues to inspire the founding of  and ultimately the publication of this book?

MH: Nope, it has always been a collection of folks.

CG: What’s the last thing you shared and when?

MH: I shared the bus to my roommate to the co-working office space where I’m writing this email, it might be easier to think of the last thing I didn’t share.

Malcolm Harris is a Senior Editor at


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