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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
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...
Published on September 14, 2008 by William J. Romanos

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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Place to Start
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...
Published on April 21, 2009 by Sadcaddy


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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Great Place to Start, April 21, 2009
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This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
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.
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36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent., September 14, 2008
This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good dialogue, but we need to go deeper, January 28, 2010
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This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
We are living a period of transition. Using Thomas Kuhn concepts we may say that we are in the middle of a paradigmatic change . As it's normal in a period of a paradigmatic change there are a lot of new questions and sometimes we've the temptation of trying to answer to the new questions with the tools and the concepts of the `old paradigm'. Born Digital is a serious tentative of understand the new and emergent digital paradigm where a part of the new generation is living and simultaneously help his readers (specially parents and educators) to do the right questions about it.
The main thesis Born Digital is that the passage from the analog paradigm to the digital paradigm is deeply transforming the way how digital natives are living. Such deep transformations are affecting their self perception and the way they interact with others and with the reality. In the book they analyze with great detail how the digital revolution is affecting so different aspects of live as education, privacy, creativity, the way as we manage information,...
Facing all this topics the authors have done two previous options that I consider significantly important. First of all, they want to avoid two extreme attitudes: apocalyptic and naïf. Avoiding an apocalyptic attitude they are able two let us know all the possibilities that the digital era is offering to the new generation. Avoiding a naïf approach they are able to stress some serious problems. Two good examples of this problems are the gap between digital natives and those from the same generation that don't have access to technologies as internet, and the problematic of multitasking and its impact on education or daily life. The second option that I would like to refer is what I consider the best intuition of Born Digital. In fact the authors defend that the attempt to understand our digital era must involve different actors, each one with his or her responsibilities. To explain this idea in a graphic way our actors created a diagram with several circles. In the inner circle are the digital native that are the most well situated to lead us through this world. After them we found friends and family, followed by educators, than companies and finally the state and the law. The advantageous of this choice is to call our attention that the options that we do about the world we are living should be shared. We are committed with our context and we can't be scared or alienated spectators that do nothing about what is happened.
Is fair to recognize that Born Digital is the result of a serious work of research. Palfrey and Gasser gave to their readers a significant and pertinent amount of dates about all the topics they analyze. I am particular amazed with all the problematic concerned with digital dossiers and how many information is possible to collect about each one of us searching on internet. Being aware about what is happened in the deep internet where several dates are saved and knowing that normal users don't know how to go there, is important to allowed us to do more conscious choices. This example gives me the opportunity to highlight one of the most significant goals of this book: made its readers more able to choose and more able to help digital natives being more conscious of the consequences of their options in terms of their relation with the digital world. In fact our relation with the world is never neutral. By action or omission we participate in the construction of our own culture. The importance given in the book to the critical thinking shows how deep is t Palfrey and Gasser's concern in this specific point.
After reading Born Digital I consider important to analyze some critical points of this book. Born digital seems to me an excessive pragmatic book. One of the concepts that I believe is influenced by this pragmatism is authors' idea of Media Literacy. In fact all consternations seem to be related with a practical use of some specific tools. The questions they do may be formulated like this: How to protect ourselves, how to produce, how to create, how to manage information. But literacy is not only about how to use a specific language. Using the Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire's definition, literacy is about reading the word and reading the world . The consequences are important: Media Literacy isn't about giving our students skills or contents that they will use in a neutral way. Media Literacy is about helping our students to be conscientious how using the new media and technology they are creating the world and how our perception of the world is transformed in a definitive way by technology. I recognize that the author give a significant importance to the dates from neuroscience. Those dates help us to realize how our perception is changing. But the authors option almost merely descriptive. In my opinion they fail to do a serious Ethic consideration of all these changes: what kind of world are we building and most important what kind of world we want to build?
Finally I would like to emphasize the absence of what I would like to call an anthropological concern. In fact, being so exhaustive in its descriptions and assuming important apprehensions and hopes, the book fails to do decisive questions. For instances, the first chapter is a real good description about the influences of digital age in the way how digital natives are building and managing there identities. But at the same time the book doesn't ask the deepest anthropological questions. What are the most genuine needs of the human being? How the digital age is affecting the way we search for this need. Is this new time affecting the way of love and the experience of being loved? Another good example is the chapter about violence. There John Palfrey and Urs Gasser do in a balanced way the analysis of the youth generation's violence reception through the new and the old media. They related in an appropriated way the consequences of that reception with the social and economic context. But, once more the fail to do same decisive questions: how we are the new generations learning to solve their inner a external conflicts, how they learn to lead with their own aggressively? What they are learning from the way adults (parents, educators) solve conflicts? Are their relations in School excessively based on competition? What are their fears? For all that one of the most important attitudes is our ability to dialogue with the digital natives. Born Digital is a good and serious dialogue with this generation, but we need to go deeper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explains the Digital Lifestyle, April 21, 2009
This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
Born Digital could best be described as book that explains the "digital lifestyle" of those born after 1980. It is best for someone that has children or family members who are active in the digital world, but do no understand how things work, or why they appear so exciting.

The book references those that were born after 1980 as "digital natives" because they were born into a world with technology and technological changes that happened almost daily. They did not know an "old" way of doing things; electronically and digitally is the only way of doing things, and anything less is an inconvience, and not practical because they just were not born in a time where anything else exsisted.

Managing online profiles is an extension of themselves and another facet of their personality, not a separate entity. When it comes to problems that are caused in the digital world, the network, which starts with the Digital Native at the center, then friends and family, teachers/coaches/mentors, trusted software companies, and the the law. All of these groups together have to be aware of what is going on in the digital world, in order to protect the digital native;who was not born with a sense of fear about the new technologies, because they have always been around.

This book talks about common topics such as online identities, privacy, and safety, but it also talks about how Digital Natives are essentially changing the look and face of traditional business models.

Digital Native and Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, became "the center of the Web 2.0 movement". He changed the way that people connected with each other and changed information. He also received backing from Microsoft, but even with that...it was only a two percent stake in Facebook.

Zuckerberg could best be described as the face of the evolution of digital entrepreneurship, and how Digital Natives have taken what they have grown up with, and to became leaders in business. Understanding this process is important because the digital world is growing and advancing even more everyday, so knowing the background and history will explain what come naturally to the Digital Natives.

Classroom learning and school has also been changed by digital natives because they are used to being constantly connected to the Internet, using the internet for research and learning about new topics. The problems with digital learning, and other ethical issues are also discussed.

However, this has also caused problems because they are also used to chatting, instant messaging and doing others tasks while online. One issue that has come up is that it is easier for students to cheat using information that they have found online.

This book is a must read for anyone that is has not been immersed in the digital culture, is trying to avoid it at all costs, wants more information or knows someone that is a Digital Native. You will learn the pros, cons, problems, solutions and ethical issues issues that surround this subculture and gain a better understanding of what it means to have a "digital lifestyle".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A highly repetitive book, February 19, 2011
I assigned this book to a course with high expectations. My students and I were dismayed at the repetitiveness of the messages delivered in the book, especially in the first three chapters. This seems to be a problem of careless editing and dual authorship. It results in tedious reading. Much of what is covered in the book is already old news, a problem with any study that deals with a moving target.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first generation of 'digital natives' children born and raised in the digital world are coming of age, November 16, 2008
This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
The first generation of 'digital natives' children born and raised in the digital world are coming of age, and our society will be changed by their perceptions and different worldviews. BORN DIGITAL considers these changing perceptions and is based on in-depth original research, including interviews from members of this generation. Philosophy blends with social issues and insights in an invaluable pick for a brave new world, perfect for any discussions or collections strong in social issues, philosophy or science.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wise and Insightful Observations of Challenges Facing All of Us in the Digital Age., September 5, 2010
I was really surprised to see the mediocre rating of this book until I read a bunch of the one star reviews and realized they were from college students and "digital natives" who were upset with the way they were portrayed in this book. It reminded me of my own ire reading the conventional wisdom about my generation X, however from the animosity of some of the younger reviewers, you'd think they were getting called slackers and underachievers.

Quite the contrary, Palfrey and Gasser speak quite admiringly of the young people they call "Digital Natives," though I can understand why they would be irritated by a couple of lawyers more than twice their age summarizing up the commonly believed faults of a generation of people in an attempt to explain the psychology of millions of people. That might be where this book is a bit faulty. Surely, there is no way to accurately cover an up and coming generation of people in a 360-some page book, especially when not all the book is about Digital Natives, but about global society in general going digital.

This fault in the premise of the book is ironically also a strength of the book and a reason why I'd recommend this book as a good general read for anyone who's interested in getting a very non-sensational and well reasoned view of issues that we face as a society going deeper into the digital age. There are few books like this that I like because I have lived so much of what these sort of books cover. At thirtysomething, I'm a digital elder... not because I'm older than the "digital natives," but because I hopped online in the 80's and instantly adopted the early Internet as my second home. My quarter century in the digital world has given me a very long view of how these technologies affect society and are in turn affected by society.

In reading this book that's supposed to help me understand people who could be my children, I actually saw my own digital journey reflected in their writings. This is a wise book and a very well written and well informed book. The only other weakness in the book that I can identify other than being too broad in the scope of their subject is in the parts of the book in which they venture off into making suggestions for helping digital natives and society in general deal with the challenges of the digital age. The suggestions are too generic to be useful and could sound quite patronizing if you see yourself as the subject of these prescriptions.

For the faults I've identified in this book, I'd actually give it a 4-star rating, but I'm bumping my rating to counterbalance those folks who've been handing out one star ratings to vent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Digital Comprehension, April 21, 2009
By 
S. Doran (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
Digital technology is responsible for the evolutionary change that has spawned the "Digital Native" generation. In Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives, John Palfrey and Urs Gasser define "Digital Natives" as people who were born after 1980. The authors categorize "Digital Natives" as those people who use socially-networked digital technologies. Palfrey and Gasser seek to explore the societal and cultural influence of digital technology, while outlining a broad framework for understanding its impact on those who use it, namely "Digital Natives."

Born Digital goes into detail about the ongoing, rapid evolution that is taking place in the realm of digital technology. Societies and cultures around the globe are rigorously trying to keep pace with digital technology, and in turn, these same societies and cultures are constantly adapting and learning how to use digital technology in a responsible, pragmatic, and optimistic fashion. As described in the text, the achievement of reaching such a positive utilization of digital technology is not always as easy as it may seem. Born Digital outlines the need to take a cautious approach toward this powerful technology, while fully comprehending both the positive and negative effects that it may produce. As the authors accentuate throughout Born Digital, the educational process that takes place among "Digital Natives" must start from the very beginning of their lives. In essence, the need for this educational surge comes from the fact that "Digital Natives" were born and have come to live in a world filled with the expanses of digital technology. "Digital Natives" only know a world where digital technology exists and flourishes as a large part of their everyday lives. Thus, "Digital Natives" must learn how to properly embrace and handle the influences of the digital age.

The organization of the text, through a carefully-conceived thematic sequence of chapters, helps the overall flow of the book, while stressing certain areas that are heavily influenced by the formidable power of digital technology. To name a few areas of discussion, identity, privacy, safety, creativity, quality, innovation, and activism are discussed in great depth throughout the book. These are just several of the chapter themes contained in Born Digital, all of which have very unique perspectives on digital technology's significance. In order to encompass the enormity of this discussion, the authors made the correct organizational decisions as to how to break down such a diverse and convoluted subject.

There were certain sections of Born Digital that made my quiver in paranoia. While discussing the digital footprints that one can leave behind in cyberspace, I became increasingly aware and paranoid about the potential negative impacts of digital technology. At first, I became disconcerted with the text, but after further reading and analysis, I came to understand that for all the good that this technology has to offer, there is also an immense amount of bad that needs to be dissected. Thus, I understand why the authors chose to address such important topics, and I am grateful that they did so.

Personally, I enjoyed Born Digital. I especially enjoyed the "Learners" chapter in Born Digital. Being the son of two lifelong educators, I feel very strongly about the importance of education. Furthermore, I am thankful that the authors emphasized the need to teach children the significance of being able "to think synthetically and critically" when navigating through digital landscapes. The foundations of education must be upheld and not completely transformed by the constant barrage of digital technology. Embracing such technology, while adhering to the fundamental principles of education and critical thinking, will help shed positive light on future digital generations.

This work should serve as a guide for those people who are interested in exploring digital technology through the lens of a "Digital Native." Because of the fact that this book touches society and culture on so many levels, it is difficult to pinpoint a specific audience who should read this book. Therefore, I simply recommend this book to anyone interested in the shaping of our world's digital future.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Perhaps a Bit Overly Optimistic, November 18, 2008
This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
"Born Digital" is a fascinating look at the impact of technology on young people. I found it particularly interesting since I had recently read The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30), which has a very different take on the subject. The very same technology that Dr. Bauerlein criticizes in "The Dumbest Generation" by and large comes in for praise by Drs. Palfrey and Gesser in "Born Digital".

After reading both books, I believe the true impact of technology on young people is somewhere in between the overly negative view of Dr. Bauerlein and the rosy view of Drs. Palfrey & Gesser. I found the titles to be complementary and highly recommend those who are interested in the topic read both.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the starting point for any discussion with today's Digital Generation, February 4, 2009
By 
Adam Thierer (technology policy analyst in Washington, DC area) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (Hardcover)
Palfrey and Gasser's fine early history of this generation of "Digital Natives" serves as a starting point for any conversation about how to mentor and interact with the children of the Web. It's a comprehensive and very even-handed discussion about a variety of concerns or Internet pathologies, including: online safety, personal privacy, copyright piracy, offensive content, classroom learning, and much more.

The authors offer a balanced treatment of these issues -- almost to a fault, in that they occasionally fail to develop fully their own positions. Of course, as they repeatedly -- and correctly -- note, often these thorny questions have no easy answers. "The hard problem," they point out, "is how to balance caution with encouragement: How do we take effective steps to protect our children, as well as the interests of others, while allowing those same kids enough room to figure things out on their own?"
If there is a single solution, they argue, it's education. The authors want parents, educators, and lawmakers to do more to engage the digital generation in a dialogue, instead of leaving it to fend for itself. "The traditional values and common sense that have served us well in the past will be relevant in this new world, too," they maintain. But Palfrey and Gasser don't rule out additional tools and methods, including technical controls, industry self-regulation, social norms, and even government action.

It's a solid treatment of a wide assortment of difficult issues. See my complete review of Born Digital at the Technology Liberation Front blog.
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