What is a digital native?

Yesterday I chaired a session on Digital Natives as part of the BBC’s Developing Talent conference hosted by UCLan.  We pulled in two of our second years, Joe Stashko and Daniel Bentley, who we think are digital natives(even if they don’t!) to talk to the audience about how they do what they do and my colleague Paul Egglestone gave his perspective from a community and digital immigrant perspective.

They did a great job and some interesting points came out of the too-and-fro. As ‘chair’ I made some notes that may or may not define a digital native based on the panelists views and the audience questions.

A digital native:

  • Buys in to the implied funding model. You pay to use this service with your information. Right or wrong.
  • Understands and is part of the social graph
  • Over-shares but doesn’t over promote (themselves)
  • Will over-share your content – whether you want them to or not!
  • Will give stuff away for free as long as you come and get it
  • Doesn’t read terms and conditions but then who does!
  • Won’t sign up for a BBC ID (as it doesn’t play well with Facebook)
  • Thinks about community, not readers
  • Makes connections
  • Is ‘almost’ as popular as the local newspaper
  • Like fragments rather than the whole
  • Aggregates and curates(rather than edits)
  • Knows where to get good fish and chips
  • Is young but embraces technology again when they get over 40.
  • May grow-up in to an uber geek.
  • Attracts funding for new ideas
  • Tries to connect those around them
  • Isn’t always that interested in quality – whatever that is.
  • Is less bothered about how you use their data than you are. Or, at least, doesn’t think about it.
  • They have no fear. They don’t worry about what the do being public

What do you think?

12 Replies to “What is a digital native?”

  1. So what’s the term for people who have gone past digital native? The ones who have begun to reign it in a little perhaps; have deleted or left dormant their Facebook accounts (perhaps they communicate on Twitter more and don’t see the value in Facebook, or perhaps they’ve become aware of and annoyed by its continually-moving goalposts) — are they the “uber geeks”… or is it something else?

    1. Thanks for stopping by Mo.

      That did come up. One member of the audience told me about a bunch of their students who had, en masse, left Facebook. People supposedly slap-bang in the Facebook demographic.

      I still think they are digital natives. Just more selective.

      Using Facebook as an example was interesting as it separated the room. There were lots of people there who seemed to have some fundamental nervousness of facebook because it was facebook but some of the answers and responses suggested that peoples behavior (facebook like behavior – sharing info etc) was no different on other platforms.

      It struck me that often people were using facebook as shorthand to describe more general behavior.

  2. I think a digital native does those things without realising they’re doing them, or at the very least, isn’t making a conscious decision they’re doing those things, it’s just “how it’s done”

  3. I’d add to the list, in a journalism context:

    Doesn’t give a damn if is killing journalism.

    It was a great session to be part of. I found it really interesting to gauge the reactions of media professionals, nearly all over 30, after hearing about how their data is used. There was nervous laughter, quizzical looks and plenty of questions.

    I was left a little frustrated with the BBC as many weren’t prepared to admit where they’re going wrong, in regards to sharing with the social graph. There was the defence of: “We’re the BBC, we have to be cautious.” But cautious about what? 500million on Facebook don’t care, why should 30 million BBC viewers?

  4. I think for me the best part of the whole thing was actually consciously thinking about the concepts discussed.

    Because a lot of it is intuitive to me there’s very little opportunity to sit back and analyse the big picture and the implications. When putting together the presentation I found myself thinking “yeah, this stuff is pretty interesting and innovative actually” – without ever having previously thought about it properly.

    Questions in the second session were slightly more heated but all the better for it; it’s through that kind of debate that you start to see the mentality at organisations like the BBC as well as provoking thoughts about your own beliefs and arguments on the topic.

  5. A digital native is a person for whom digital technologies already existed when they were born, and hence has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3s. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later


    Love the article

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