Saturday, July 15, 2006

Are You a Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant?

Among the blogs I subscribe to via Bloglines is Eyebeam reBlog. Generally, they point out online items of interest that combine art and technology. The week they pointed to a story about how brains might be changing as a result of our wired world.

Report: The next step in brain evolution - Sunday Times - Times Online

I question the use of the word evolution in the title of the article - I think for now we can only say that given the stimuli certain brains are receiving, they are reacting/growing in response to that stimuli. (In other words, I think existing brains are being cultured (nurtured) by a new environment, not necessarily "evolving" through natural selection - at least not yet.)

Anyway, that's a fine point.

The article makes the point that younger people are "digital natives" - they've "never known a world without instant communication." This is defined in the article as having access to cell phones and email. Who are the "digital immigrants?" I guess we're the old farts who lived in the days when before cell phones became ubiquitous. (I would like to point out that land-line telephones also offer "instant communication" - it simply isn't portable.)

Although I was born in the dark ages before color TV, I believe that I may be at least a missing link between the digital immigrants and the digital natives. Maybe I'm a first generation digerati. (That places me squarely in line with my socio-ethnic heritage, too. I'm generation 1.5 in immigration to the US.) I'm quite comfortable and thriving in my little virtual world, but I still remember what it is like to have a new technology introduced to me seemingly against my will. And some of my best friends and mentors tell me that they read my blog, but their "luddite tendencies" keep them from commenting on it.

This heritage of being between cultures and between technological advances might be what drew me into interpretion and liaison roles like technical writer and business analyst. Now I see myself bridging the world of business+technology with the world of enahanced human systems. (Or something like that. This seems like a rich vein for further personal exploration - note to self.)

What about you? Are you a digital native or a digital immigrant? Or are you a bridge between the old world and the new? And why do you say so?

1 Comments:

Blogger Rich James said...

Thanks for the email. Yes, that blog may limit commenting to CSCC staff. I'll have to get that changed. That wall was erected early on before administration understood what blogging is. What good is a blog that filters out the rest of the world?

"Digital native" is familar bone I keep coming back to chew on. I've written more about this on another (neglected lately) blog that includes more personal musings. Check out:
http://waterbugblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/why-waterbug.html
and
http://waterbugblog.blogspot.com/2006/02/do-leapfrogs-eat-waterbugs.html

I'm clearly an immigrant. I do not consider myself a technologist but more of a creator/eductor/activist intrigued by potential uses of technology to free our potential. But part of me is wary of technophilia that dresses up education as usual with a web interface.

9:44 PM  

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