Tuesday, 4 September 2007

"Digital native" -- the most overused term?

After the first day of the ALT-C (learning technology) conference, one common theme is that almost every talk I have been to has at some point mentioned "digital natives and digital immigrants". And many of the speakers have talked about their teenage children understanding the Web 2.0 world so much better... Maybe it's the reactionary in me, but I think the "digital native/immigrant" term might be becoming a hindrance -- it seems to be prompting people sometimes to think about today's undergraduates as an alien culture they cannot easily relate to or understand. And I don't think that's true. Most of the "digital native" phenomena seem perfectly rational and understandable from an HCI perspective, whether it be using Facebook instead in preference to email for personal communication (no spam, less formal, no need to write down email addresses, etc etc...) or the texting culture.

In fact, if the world wasn't locked into email by network effects ("everyone else uses email and expects me to have email" or "work expects me to have email") I wonder if any of us would really chose email as our method of choice any more, given it is 90% spam now.

1 comment:

djfoobarmatt said...

As a recent digital immigrant to facebook, I have to agree. Facebook and other web2.0 apps open up new ways of interacting that email doesn't have. There is such thing as facebook spam (in the form of dodgy friend invites) but it doesn't seem as bad.