Wednesday, December 05, 2007

digital whomever

Siva has a great post about the labeling of "Digital" whomevers -- natives, immigrants, generation, millennials -- etc.

He doesn't buy it. I have a slightly different spin and some different reasons, but I don't buy it either.

I often take part in discussions about services for faculty and students, and sometimes hear ageist comments about how older faculty are completely non-digital and all students are automatically all digital. Hah! Just like some folks have an interest or skill in languages or math or art and some folks don't, it's the same with whatever "digital" is. I have worked with faculty in their 60s who saw something in being digital decades ago and have worked in that realm for years. I have worked with colleagues -- librarians and faculty -- in my own age group (I'm 44) who hate all technology with a passion and others who embrace it in all ways. I have worked with students at three different research universities who could not care less about being digital.

Being digital is not generational. At the core of what Jeff Gomez calls "Generation Download" and "Generation Upload" in his book Print is Dead, there is truly an ubiquitousness of digital media use that is changing media consumption and production paradigms and changing the media market. There is absolutely an increased level of acceptance that this is standard operating procedure. I'm still not willing to agree that an entire generation is digital and that the entirety of other generations are not. There's still predilection and interest and skill and, yes, issues of availability and affordability of technology that crosses all generations.

There are degrees of digital-ness. Different comfort levels. Different skill levels. Different levels of access. Why do we have to apply such absolute labels?

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