Confessions of a Digital Native

19Jul07

photo: lou’s canon 

Over the weekend I did a little cleaning. I began to go through my massive bin of paperwork. I have had this bin in the top of my closet for as long as I can remember. It contains all my schoolwork from when I began school, all the way up to this past spring. It is a catalogue of my life and always fun to flip through. Going through it I am reminded of all the different times in my life and what was important to me then.

After I threw out all the paper work I now have saved digitally I began to realize how my bin documents the rapid evolution of technology. At the bottom of the bin are large manila sheets of paper with finger paintings and drawings; while at the top I have digital printouts from work at OCAD. However, somewhere in the middle of this pile is a staggering leap that marked the beginning of the Internet. I was reminded of this by the first research project I ever did using the Internet. While I had used the Internet prior to this for other things, this is the first time it seemed useful to me. Here is this great database of information that I can access sitting on my couch.

When I think back to this time I can vividly recall my dad bringing home his office laptop and logging on to the web via a dial up modem. As an avid reader he was very excited about all the possibilities on the web. He would often tell friends how amazing this new thing was. Most importantly he would always mention how amazing hyper linking was. How one site would lead you to another one and then another and another and so on until, by the end of your session you completely forgot where you began. I never did understand this. For me this was how it was, the Internet is a network and therefore a connected series of pages and websites. I never got lost and was always conscious of what led to what. For me the Internet wasn’t different from the rest of the world, it was exactly the same.

Looking back I can see that this clearly pegs me as a “digital native”. I grew up thinking like the Internet: this is connected to that and so on. But it makes me wonder, am I missing out on something? I practically live online and know more about the web then most of my peers, especially those not of my generation. However I think that because I’m so deep in the digital world, I’m missing something that only comes from seeing it from the outside.

Perspective is a powerful tool and something I think we need more of in out digital world. So step back and think outside the web; try and remember how life was at the bottom of the bin.

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2 Responses to “Confessions of a Digital Native”

  1. I love this post Nate – it seems to me you already have much of the perspective you are longing for. I am surprised that you were able to part with your old physical pile, however. Nothing beats a gloppy fingerpainting to encapsulate the analog mudpie of childhood.

  2. Thanks for the compliment Kelly, however I still think that the perspective I described isn’t so much knowledge but rather a high level understanding of “what it all means”. I can think about this but I think I’m too invested to realize smaller things. It’s as if the things that really matter don’t phase me anymore. I think this is also a wider trend that comes from the rapid rate of progress in today’s world.

    and don’t worry I didn’t part with the finger paintings, just a few spelling tests.


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