Immigrants and Natives

N.b. this is a post I originally wrote for the Lucre Social blog.

So, according to a recent report in the excellent Figaro Digital, those born after 1980, and especially those bright young things born after the year 2000 are officially “digital natives”. For those not familiar with digital jargon, that means for these lucky people, there’s simply no barriers between the digital world, and the ‘real’ world. An interesting thought, especially for marketeers.

So where does that leave someone like me? Being born in 1981 surely means that I’ll forever be playing catch up, lumbering around and doomed to be a digital immigrant forever more? Of course, this isn’t the case for me, but then I would say that. But date of birth aside, for anyone wanting to assess where they fit when it comes to immigrants and natives, here’s my checklist, gathered from recent personal experience.

  • Facebook friends. I’ve got 204 on last count, but have a quick look at an 18 year old’s profile and you’ve got 800+. I’m not sure whether this means I’m unpopular (possibly) but this is certainly a trend; digital natives are totally open and basically, friends with everyone. After all; who really knows that many people?
  • Web TV; ask a digital immigrant watching online video what they’re doing, and they’ll typically tell you they’re watching ‘TV on the internet’. Ask a digital native and they’ll just say they’re watching ‘TV’. You see, they just don’t see the difference between traditional television, and online video.
  • Privacy. Mark Zuckerburg caused controversy earlier in the year when he claimed Facebook’s privacy laws simply followed what’s happening in wider society. And reflecting this are digital natives; a straw poll reveals few Facebook profiles of younger people are locked (not that I’m prying); whereas digital immigrants would baulk at this. The same goes when it comes to Youtube uploads, Flickr accounts and so on. Again it’s back to this notion of total openness; everyone can see everything.

There’s just three that have struck me in the last few days. Don’t get me started on the rest, like handsets being held aloft at gigs instead of lighters. It just makes me feel old ok?


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