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Verses From Edith






Friday, March 28, 2014

While recently performing the formal inauguration of the Media Advisory Committee on Broadband, Vice Chairman of the Broadband Council, Ernest Ndukwe, in his charismatic nature smiled and said "Broadband remains critical to the development of Nigeria and to the individual. Anyone that is not able to use digital devices is not part of the digital world. We want to ensure that every Nigerian is a digital native, no matter how remote they may be located…”  The term broadband commonly refers to high-speed Internet access and can be simply defined as a fast connection to the internet that is always on and allows a user to send emails, surf the web, download images and music, watch videos, join a web conference, and much more. 

A deeper meditation on the words of the Vice Chairman of the Broadband Council, Ernest Ndukwe, brings to fore the issue of digital citizenship once more. The terms “digital native” and “digital immigrant” were originally coined by Prensky, Marc. It is either you are a digital native or a digital immigrant or you need to begin to ask yourself which line of the digital divide you are in.  According to Brian Keith, A digital native can be defined as a person who was born after the introduction of digital technology. Digital Natives use online services like Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Skype, LinkedIn and Twitter on various digital technologies, such as smart phones or a tablet device. Digital Natives have blended their online life with their offline life.

Digital natives can be compared with the older generation who are learning and adopting new technology. These are called digital immigrants. The term digital immigrant refers more often to people born before the introduction of digital technology or who are still hooked to life before the Broadband. Ironically, some Digital Immigrants created the digital technology used by Digital Natives.

It is amazing to me how in all the hoopla and awareness these days about the positive impact of broadband, we could still see the digital divide widening. A really big discontinuity has taken place.  Looking out at the information technology landscape today, one will be tempted to say that there’s something different about today’s youths and emerging entrepreneurs. They’ve never lived without Google or the Web or apps or cable TV or cell phones. They click and drag with flair. They are called digital natives while the older adults who still remember and live a life before broadband are called digital immigrants.

Unlike the immigrants, the natives could surf the Web, upload photos, exchange texts, swipe and navigate apps, and chat by Skype. The natives’ are known for their speed and innovativeness.

3 Types of Digital Immigrants
If you are a Digital Immigrant, it does not mean you are automatically technically inept. You can actually be very technically astute.  Digital Immigrants will have to deal with Digital Natives, as illustrated below by Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch explains that Digital Immigrants must begin to assimilate into the Digital Native culture and their way of thinking. While the sentiment sounds good, it may not be as easy as you might initially think. But that is part of the reason why the Nigerian Government is positively projecting information about the Nigerian National Broadband Plan and the benefits that the broadband technology enables to all Nigerians.

The Avoiders: This group does not adapt to new technology quickly, if ever.
The Reluctant Adopters: This group is aware of new technology and adopts to it at a slow pace.
Eager Adopters: This group enthusiastically adapts to new technology. They embrace it.

3 Types of Digital Natives
Dr. Ofer Zur (a Digital Immigrant) and Azzia Zur (a Digital Native) classifies Digital Natives into three sub-categories:

The Avoiders: This group consists of people, who are born during the digital age, and do not desire new technology. They are not enamored with Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, or Youtube.

The Minimalists: This group is aware that digital technology is a part of their daily life. They choose to interact with only the most interesting things to them personally. For example, a young person who does not have a Twitter account and avoids Facebook and only sends emails and downloads ebooks.

Enthusiastic Participants: This group is the largest group of Digital Natives. Like their Digital Immigrant cousins the Eager Adopters, Enthusiastic Participants embrace and use all forms of digital technology. This group prefers texting and tweeting over sending out email blasts. They are aware of the latest technology, trends, and tools. Their online and offline lives are blending together.

Note however, that most often, digital immigrants are the parents, teachers, and managers of Digital Natives.

Worthy of note is that as digital Immigrants to adapt to their environment, they always retain some degree of their life before broadband footprint. Like one who only does search online after combing the library manually or one who prints out his email to edit before sending. You may also imagine a journalist or PR Professional not on twitter.

We all know that we are living in an increasingly technologically driven world. We can debate the pros and cons of this reality but we can't deny that the world has changed very quickly in head spinning ways.

I was recently discussing with a client for an online demo of one of our products and it was shocking that the client would prefer driving down to my office from Ikeja to Lagos Island for the demo rather than having it over Skype or Go-meeting. We are in the Digital Age – the 21st century and to live in it one really does need to be connected to broadband in a world  that really demands comfort with and access to technology. 

You probably noticed that some Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives classifications are almost identical. A Digital Immigrant, who is an Eager Adopter, will naturally work well with a Digital Native, who is an Enthusiastic Participant. They will probably text each other, follow each other on Facebook, share online stories about similar interests, and talk about the latest gadgets and technology.

Finally, I dare ask. Having read the foregoing, would you say you are a digital native or a digital Immigrant? 

Let me have your feedback/comments below.

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