35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital is a book that deals with the emergence of a generation of Digital Natives. According to the authors, Digital Natives are the generation born after 1980. They have grown up with a strong internet presence and have never known life without a web presence. The book is primarily targeted at individuals who are parents and teachers of Digital Natives. It provides a broad survey of relevant issues generated by the advent of the web and digital technologies. The authors don't spend too much time on one topic, instead they cover a lot of ground providing insight to many issues that Digital Natives face today. The purpose of the book and indeed its strength revolves around creating awareness rather than on focused argument.
The first four chapters, "Identity," "Dossiers," "Privacy," and "Safety," deal with the relationship between digitized data and individual privacy. Chapter 4 deals with the mounting concern of abundant violent and sexual imagery. Digital natives are constantly reinventing and expanding the offline social sphere by creating profiles on social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook. They tend to take greater risks by providing personal information on these sites as well as with other websites. What happens to personal information over time? Information may be secure but for how long? According to Palfrey and Gasser, the security of information is a mounting concern that can't be answered yet. In "Privacy," Palfrey and Gasser raise important questions concerning privacy. Everyday Digital Natives cede more and more information to various websites without any notion of what may done with the information at a later date. What are the ramifications of so much data being in the hands of other people? Is the definition of privacy changing permanently? Despite the first 3 chapters' cautionary tone Palfrey and Gasser do provide some hopeful examples. Digital Natives also have power to make changes by rallying together as they did when they formed the "Students against Facebook" group. This group (750,000 members) was able to get Facebook to alter its privacy settings. Collaborative action, like this one, is one of many the authors cite as a growing positive force. In "Safety" the authors turn their lens to the easily accessible violent and sexual content that permeates the web. Digital Natives and those that are a bit younger are increasing exposed to content they may not be ready to see. Good judgment and some parental controls may help, but according to the authors, a large portion of Digital Natives are developing a surprisingly mature attitude about the excess "noise" on the web.
The next three chapters, "Creators," and "Pirates," and "Quality," deal with the very free, creator heavy content that is both created and consumed by Digital Natives. Digital Natives are increasingly creating mash-ups, videos and other media on a large scale. The authors are very optimistic and encouraging in this regard. Never before has there been such a large scale collaborative movement to share and create.
Concerns are raised around the notion of artist property, but societal norms are ultimately to blame for copyright infringement as well as digital media theft (illegal downloading of music and movies). In the chapter "Quality," the authors discuss concerns with Digital Natives' consumption of information found on the web. There is so much information, how accurate is it? Are they able to detect the good from the bad? According to the authors, Digital Natives are making decisions based on information found on the web. From health concerns, to education how accurate and reliable is the information they are reading?
The following chapters "Overload," and "Aggressors," deal with the affects of information overload and violent imagery and gaming. The authors' main questions in "Overload" are what if any the affects of the massive stream of information on human cognition. Digital Natives are consuming more media in less time than earlier generations. According to the authors, the results are increased multi-tasking and shorter attention spans. The more information available the more likely a Digital Native may grow confused and have trouble making decisions. The authors end the chapter by citing the human ability to adapt to new technologies. In this regard, the web is no exception. The next chapter deals with the growing interest in violent video games and imagery that can be found on the web. Digital Natives are increasingly becoming active players in fantasy worlds online where they kill other players in brutal ways. The authors main concern is the repeated "trigger" of violent behavior brought on by this type of gaming. The repeated psychological exposure to violent gaming may manifest in real life.
The last three chapters "Innovators," "Learners," and "Activists," Deal with more optimistic content. Digital Natives are increasingly collaborating online and developing goods and services that can have huge paydays. Young entrepreneurs are creating innovative products online for a fraction of the start-up cost of earlier generations. How Digital Natives learn is in a state of flux. Multi-tasking is the norm as well as rapid "at a glance" consumption of information. What are the affects of this? Is it all negative or are Digital Natives still learning but just differently? The last chapter deals with the growing tendency of Digital Natives to collaborate online. Can online collaboration affect political change? The authors seem optimistic in this regard. Real-time collaboration online can help bring transparency to political actions, increasing the likely hood that destructive political acts are evaluated in a global context.
The book doesn't spend too much time dealing with one specific issue, but tries to cover a broad array of subject matter. This strategy helps create awareness in older generations and gives them enough information on a certain topic for them to delve further if and when needed.
Another strong point is the comparison of new adaptive behavior with older technological trends. In Chapter 8, the authors provide comparisons between industrialization and developing city life with information overload. This helps frame a growing concern in historical context, contributing to an optimistic interpretation of human ability to adapt to significant technological advances.
The book's tone is ultimately cautionary (especially the first three chapters) and may overwhelm an older, less tech savvy audience. However, the authors do try to balance the good with the bad and the book ultimately ends on a positive note. The real strength in the book is awareness. Some older generations just don't know where to start where their kids are concerned. This book provides enough examples to bring possibly overwhelming topics into a context that can be understood by those that find themselves somewhat powerless to help. Finally, there is enough information to dig deeper if those in a position to help find that they need to.
36 of 43 people found the following review helpful
William J. Romanos
- Published on Amazon.com
There is nothing more important than the safety of our children. There is also nothing more important than the education, creativity and innovation that has been, and can still further be, unleashed and harnessed with suitably crafted policies, and incentives, focused on the issues surrounding their use of digital media and other digital technologies, whether such policies and incentives come from parents, teachers, librarians, governments, lawmakers, or social media or other Internet-focused companies. These are some of the key subjects covered in Born Digital. But to begin to grapple with these issues, as the authors inform us, we must first understand Digital Natives.
The term "Digital Natives" is used, generally, to refer to people born after 1980. The book Born Digital is about the issues surrounding Digital Natives and their intensive use of digital media and other digital technologies. Digital Natives were born into a world that was already pervasively digital. Assuming they were born into an advanced industrial economy - and are not otherwise at the low end of the participation or technological gap, Digital Natives did not transition from an analog world to a digital world as most of us have.
Born Digital is especially focused on the issues surrounding Digital Natives' intensive use of the Internet and online social networks (like Facebook and MySpace) and other digital tools and media they use on a daily basis (such as instant messaging, texting, online chat rooms, video games, YouTube, etc.). We are no longer living in an analog world. The world - especially as experienced from the viewpoint of children and young adults who have access to these technologies - is now - but more importantly has been for them since they were born - digital. They were born digital. We had better learn to understand this age group (or cohort) to deal with it effectively and to craft policies and incentives that maintain and foster the good aspects of these technologies (and their interaction with such technologies), while minimizing the risks Digital Natives are exposed to - or at least not arrest the positive aspects of their use and involvement with ill-suited policies based on fear and ill-informed policy choices.
The organization of Born Digital is excellent. It is organized tightly into coherent chapters dealing with a single overarching category or theme. Within each chapter, the authors elucidate some of the more pressing issues in each category or theme, and then provide specific guidance and suggestions to parents, teachers, lawmakers, librarians, etc.
Being an attorney who was deeply interested during and immediately after law school in what was called at the time "Internet law" and intellectual property issues implicated by activities on the Internet, only to lose interest after the dot-com bubble burst, this book has reignited my interest in studying the technical, social, and legal aspects of the Internet.
Born Digital has also spurred me to dive deeper and study in more depth social media and online social networks, as well as intellectual property law as applied to the increasingly digitized information environment or ecosphere. To this end, besides an excellent book covering Digital Natives and the issues they and we face in our roles as parents, teachers, lawmakers, librarians, and also simply as members of society, I also commend the authors for the excellent notes and bibliography. I look forward to reading some of the key works that the authors of Born Digital found most helpful in their research and analysis and exploring these issues further.
I have recommended Born Digital to my friends in the technology sphere as well as my friends who are parents and who have children who are at the age where they are beginning to use the Internet and other digital technologies (including, their use of cell phones, their playing of video games, etc.), intensively. I also highly recommend it to teachers, educators, counselors, librarians, law enforcement officers, lawmakers, policy-makers, or anyone interested these issues.