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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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