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I sat down to watch TV last night with my soon to be 19 year old son. The communication gap between baby boomer and millennial can sometimes be a wide one. To be honest there is very little in the way of taste in television we share in common. Invariably when I stumble across a series that we might both agree on he has watched it. Netflix has helped and he is able to steer me towards some shows of merit e.g. Marvel’s Jessica Jones or the comedy  Master of None. Too late sadly to watch together.

Last night was different though. We didn’t watch Netflix, we didn’t watch Foxtel and we didn’t watch terrestrial television. Instead we watched a thirty minute YouTube Clip together that we beamed via his MacBook onto our projector screen. In doing so we found a nexus between our love for technology and concern for the environment. Now a half hour YouTube about the environment doesn’t sound like a stimulating night’s viewing especially one might suspect for a 19 year old. Add to this the fact that it  was a product launch!

But it was riveting. It was Eldon Musk’s (of Tesla fame) launch of the new Model X transportation disruptor.  Far from a polished performer Musk takes you through the innovations that make the Tesla Model X such an inspiring design achievement. It challenges and often turns on its head the traditional approach to motor vehicles. No longer is the electric car the domain of the quirky and the environmental front-runners ( a la the Prius). Rather here is a vehicle that even Jeremy Clarkson may now want in his garage.

I was drawn to Musk in a piece I read in the Australian Financial Review about Tesla giving away their IP for their technology. Tesla spokeswoman Alexis Georgeson said recently.

“We released the Tesla Model S in June of 2012 and expected other manufacturers to create cars with similar performance and range, but nothing comparable came along,”

By releasing the patents, she said, Tesla hoped to spur consumer acceptance and even create a network of supporting businesses, like car charging stations and mechanics. Of course growing the pie, which IP sharing is likely to do, is good for Tesla. As Wilson Fisk says on Daredevil – currently playing on Netflix – we all rise with the tide. Regardless of some of the by-product benefits, the environment will end up thanking Musk and his associates. Finally our love affair with gas guzzling cars might be at an end. Car envy now is starting to focus on the unthinkable – a vehicle powered by a battery and not the internal combustion engine. Think about it…tomorrow’s young people tinkering about on cars may well be chemists rather than mechanics. Whatever happens, the future is looking a lot brighter than when the Prius was the only viable alternative.

It was a half hour of viewing to be savoured. Communicating meaningfully  across the generations is never easy. Finding common ground is one good way to start and maintain that engagement. I await Musk’s further Tesla product launchs for more than the obvious reasons.