I was doing some research about “Digital Natives” for a freelance piece of work I am writing. I feel like a digital native but technically I am not so the research was an eye opener.
A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s. This definition does not apply to me.
I then come across a book by written Don Tapscott, called Grown Up Digital which discusses the subject of Digital Natives. There are a lot of videos about this book on YouTube but I found that he was interviewed by one of my favorite sites, Rocketboom back in December. The “Grown Up Digital” site states:
“Grown Up Digital is a must read for baby boomers and virtually anyone else born before 1977. As Mr. Tapscott observes, ‘The bottom line is this: if you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future.’ And as my son often reminds me, the future is now.”
The New York Times, Book Review, Sunday, December 21, 2008
For those of us who came before Digital Natives, like myself, we are labeled Digital Immigrants. I think it is very important to be able to identify which category you are in so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses.
One of the biggest problems I face in the workplace today is convincing (typically) middle-aged managers that they have to create material for digital natives. Most of my colleagues my age are convinced that by keeping all company activities on an internal intranet they have more control over company information. I’ve tried to get companies to use YouTube to show teaching materials and give resources away but they’re stuck thinking in terms of security.
Bottom line, if organizations and companies are too slow to cater for digital natives they risk being overlooked. Digital Natives live on the Net. Some old-school managers will need to get outside the box and if your a digital immigrant, you should have a better understanding of just what your Digital Native co-worker is capable of doing.