Here are my running notes of the Lift conference in Geneva. This is Doomed to be forever young? A social archaeology of the ‘digital natives’ (Antonio Casilli), part of the Generations and Technologies session. May contain errors, omissions, things that aren’t quite right, etc. I do my best but I’m just a human live-blogging machine.
Found other good posts about this session? Link to them in the comments.
The myth of the digital native. *steph-note: YAY!!!!*
Antonio’s cousin’s MySpace page. His grandma is on YouTube. Different generations, different ways of being online. How “young” are those digital natives?
There is no empirical evidence. No facts to support this myth. Not all children are computer-savvy. As with maths or linguistic skills, their computer skills vary. And the situation is changing quickly. However, increase in broadband access changed the most over the last 5 years for people over 50.
Before “digital natives” (2006) we had “internet children” (1999) and “computer kids” (1982)
To debunk the myth, we need to do some social archeology.
Two social dynamics:
- Computers have changed the space. Reterritorialization.
Computers have gone from military bases to factories to offices to houses. (This is where the kids come in the picture.)
In the eighties, the child/youth becomes the main protagonist for the computer. Dismissal of adulthood visible in computer names (childhood names, pet names, fruit names… the computer is shrinking). The worst performers have adult/glamour names (vixen, orchidée, dragon…)
Why did the child become the main user of the computer? 3 reasons, but the best is the economic reason. Differences in uses of ICT, and younger generations buy high-added value services, so it makes sense to target them more aggressive marketing campaigns.
Second point, cultural reasons. Natives vs. immigrants, echo of the way we started thinking of technology. Before the eighties, technology is threatening (Big Brother). After, futuristic optimism. Positive attitude also towards the passing of time, insistance on real time, quick delivery.
Third reason: political. Mirrors social exclusion that has existed offline between younger and older generations while accessing technology. Young generations are overrepresented online. Around 55-63 the trend inverts, and older people are underrepresented online. This is also an offline issue. Senior citizens are generally excluded from mainstream society course and innovations.
Actually, digital natives never existed. Economic, cultural and political factors account for the creation of this myth. 2 bio humans online: perception evolves. Increasing participation of older generations => dents in the myth.
Older generations are catching up way more than the younger ones!
Q: how can you work as a sociologist if you can’t categorize people? *steph-note: didn’t get the answer*
Big misunderstanding: the seperation of “online” and “real life”. That’s not how we experience it. People are also aging in cyberspace.
Other stereotype: boys are good with computers, not girls. Military caste stereotype (computers were initially military). But in the 50s and 60s, a lot of female computer experts.