Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Myth America

I'm quoted in Siva Vaidhyanathan's great piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education: "Generational Myth: Not all young people are tech-savvy."

It's a terrific review of all the arguments against the stereotype of the "digital generation" that debates both parts of the term in ways that are useful for anyone studying the cultural practices that surround computer-mediated communication.

Consider all the pundits, professors, and pop critics who have wrung their hands over the inadequacies of the so-called digital generation of young people filling our colleges and jobs. Then consider those commentators who celebrate the creative brilliance of digitally adept youth. To them all, I want to ask: Whom are you talking about? There is no such thing as a "digital generation."

. . .

On my blog, Sivacracy, Elizabeth Losh, writing director of the humanities core course at the University of California at Irvine and author of the forthcoming Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes (MIT Press, 2009), kept the online conversation going: "Unlike many in today's supposed 'digital generation,' we learned real programming skills — with punch cards in the beginning — from the time we were in elementary school. What passes for 'media literacy' now is often nothing more than teaching kids to make prepackaged PowerPoint presentations." Losh also pointed out that the supposed existence of a digital generation has had an impact on education, as distance-learning corporations with bells-and-whistles technology get public attention while traditional classroom teaching is ignored.

In this essay, Vaidhyanathan provides an excellent survey of many of the important recent arguments presented about "digital youth." He also inspired the subtitle of the book that I am working on now: Early Adopters: The Instructional Technology Movement and the Myth of the Digital Generation.

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Blogger bob c said...

Although, if one is to frame the term " Digital Generation" in the narrowest of meanings, those that can write hypertext, this might have some limited value. Sort of like saying that only those that drive are affected by cars. Every aspect of modern life is subordinate to use of digital tech, regardless of programing or ownership/using or a computer.
In this respect, added to the dictionary definitions of the words, the term seems valid. Old debate trick, comparing apples to oranges to prove something.

5:58 AM  

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