Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Digital Immigrants

There is a phrase now: Digital Native. It's a funny one. It implies that you can somehow gain citizenry of the magical land called Internet. But think about it - the youngest person in the biz will be, what, 18 now, and if they're lucky they might have been introduced to the internet in 2000-ish, at about the age of 9.

That is not native. Childrens' dialect, accent etc. are often fully developed by then so that if they move countries, they will speak in much the same way. Neuroses, habits, tics and so on - it's very likely that they are set in stone by then. Jean Piaget thought so. To go back to media, most of us were introduced to books and TV by about 2. That is native. To be so fully acclimatised with the modes, methods, manners of speech in a space that you instantly understand what it's trying to tell you (and even then, I'd say it's not always true).

But we have all learned to use the net. We're still not in an age where working people are born into it, that's a fact. Yes, we soon will be - but that's the other thing, isn't it? Do you really think that a 2000 child, hidden away from computers for 15 years, would recognise the 2015 internet? I'm not even confident I would right now - assuming it's even on computers... Is it possible to be a native of a country that reinvents itself ever 5 years?

Oh yeah, and that is this big:

I am, while not native, I am well acquainted with corners of it. And in those corners, I don't always speak the language as well as I'd like. But this is all good news! What it means is that becoming a digital native or whatever the hell it is, is far, far easier than getting a Green Card. Because there's no one population, all it really entails is two things:
-a willingness to try/learn evershifting forms of communication, BUT,
-always, always keeping one and a half eyes on human nature. Talk changes, what they talk about, why and how to get them to talk about your thing will stay the same. Seems to me that the big booby trap for digital agencies is thinking that digital is any more than a means to an end. Trust me, it's not the end.

It's the beginning ;)