Yet another book has been published that addresses the so called "digital generation gap".
Here's the publisher's description of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser:
"The most enduring change wrought by the digital revolution is neither the new business models nor the new search algorithms, but rather the massive generation gap between those who were born digital and those who were not. The first generation of “digital natives”-children who were born into and raised in the digital world-is now coming of age, and soon our world will be reshaped in their image. Our economy, our cultural life, even the shape of our family life will be forever transformed. But who are these digital natives? How are they different from older generations, and what is the world they’re creating going to look like? In Born Digital, leading Internet and technology experts John Palfrey and Urs Gasser offer a sociological portrait of this exotic tribe of young people who can seem, even to those merely a generation older, both extraordinarily sophisticated and strangely narrow. Based on original research and advancing new theories, Born Digital explores a broad range of issues, from the highly philosophical to the purely practical: What does identity mean for young people who have dozens of online profiles and avatars? Should we worry about privacy issues? Or is privacy even a relevant value for digital natives? How does the concept of safety translate into an increasingly virtual world? Is “stranger-danger” a real problem, or a red herring? A smart, practical guide to a brave new world and its complex inhabitants, Born Digital will be essential reading for parents, teachers, and the myriad of confused adults who want to understand the digital present-and shape the digital future."
Now, I haven't read this book so perhaps I should withhold my comments but the language in this description suggests its more of the same: sweeping unsubstantiated generalizations about an entire generation.
However, somebody who has read the book suggests otherwise. Dana Boyd writes:
"If you're an academic and you choose to pick up this book - and I strongly encourage you to do so - try to read it in context. Because it is deeply grounded in research, it might be tempting to see it as an academic book with too few citations. I'd encourage you to resist the critical reflex that comes with being piled higher and deeper and appreciate the ways in which scholarly work is being leveraged as a tool for cultural intervention. I think that JP and Urs have done an astonishing job and believe that they deserve our deepest gratitude. I for one am VERY thankful of their efforts to make change based on what we know instead of what we fear."
I certainly agree with making change based on evidence but that is the problem with the net generation discourse. It argues for radical change based on flimsy evidence. If Palfrey and Gasser do have the evidence then we're moving in the right direction but I'm not sure what to make of this part of Boyd's recommendation for this book:
"Combatting pre-existing images requires more than accuracy, more than nuance. It requires either a new more-sticky image or a reworking of the original image. By working inside the frame of "digital natives," JP and Urs seek to ground that concept through a realistic image of practice. Reclaiming a term does not relieve it of all of its baggage, but it is a service to discourse if you can accept that the term won't just disappear by ignoring it. Once it's grounded, nuance becomes possible in entirely new ways."