Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Digitally Born

Given that this was published last year, I am sure everyone else here at SIS has read John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives(New York: Basic Books, 2008). The authors, both lawyers, explore the brave new world of people born after 1980 when social digital technologies came online. They consider how these individuals work and think differently and the implications for their lives of working online. Palfrey and Gasser look at identity, dossiers, privacy, safety, creation and innovation, piracy, quality, information overload, learning, and so forth. Along the way they drop comments that relate to us, such as: "Libraries should serve as a digital heritage center. The works of Digital Natives, and of everyone else living in the digital age, may well be less likely to be preserved than the writins of ninth-century monks on sturdy parchment. Librarians should think in terms of collections that will preserve this digital heritage for future generations" (p. 252). As this quotation probably indicates, this is a popular book with broad strokes. It does make you think a bit more about your increasingly younger students, however, and it is a useful exercise to read it in this light.

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