Blogging my homework: Timeline – To which generation do the first digital natives belong?

Posted by gminks in EME6507 | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Since I’m way behind, I’m just going to copy and paste my paper (lame, I know!).

Here’s the link to my timeline.  I got the idea from the latest issue of EMC On magazine (I blogged about that here).

Here’s the paper, it explains the rationale.

The intended audience for my timeline would be anyone learning about social media. The intended use is to dispel the notion that individuals in their late teens and early twenties are “digital natives”. The term digital native is used to describe an individual who has always been exposed to digital technologies. The question is to which generation do digital natives belong? Some learning objectives would be:

  • Describe major events in Internet, web, social networking, and web history
  • State the dates that bound the generations called “Gen X” and “Digital Natives”

The lesson containing the timeline would be a historical lesson on digital technologies. The timeline would serve to put the technologies into perspective, and to show that the real beginning of what we are calling Web 2.0 began 40 years ago.

The bands on the timeline were constructed to reinforce the idea that many people that fit the description of Digital Native are Gen X’ers. The top band shows the dates where Gen X starts and ends, but continues to chunk time in 10 year increments. The bottom bands shows the dates where Digital Natives start and end. Important events about Internet history, web history, social networking history, and social media history are identified in the middle band. Even as the user scrolls to look at events that occurred at the beginning of the Digital Native timeline, you can see how the oldest Gen X’er is at that time.

I wrote the descriptions in the bubbles as I would a blog post. I used very little content to explain the event, but I hyperlinked to an article with more detailed information. I technically broke the Spatial Contiguity principle by linking out to more information, but that was by design. The lesson objective was to show that digital advances have been occurring since the late 1960s, not to teach complex technical innovations over the last forty years. The explanations of technical events on the timeline were short enough to satisfy the needs of novice learners, but links were provided for learners who wanted to dig deeper on the history of a particular technology.

Keeping to the Redundancy Principle, in most cases I used icons with the simple explanations. I chose icons because in the case of social media most people will have at least seen the icons before. With some of the older technologies, if it was not possible to find an appropriate graphic I did not include one.

5 Responses to Blogging my homework: Timeline – To which generation do the first digital natives belong?

  1. Sandra S. says:

    Most definitions for baby boomers that I’ve seen extend the baby boomer years up to around 1964. Although I know Wikipedia mentions that some sources start Generation X with 1961, I’ve never seen any references to it being that early anywhere else.

    As someone born in 1961, I have to say that I definitely fit the Baby Boomer category far more than the Gen X category in terms of upbringing, outlook on work, etc. My guess is that, if you ask anyone born in the early 60s, they’d also self-identify more as a Baby Boomer than a Gen Xer.

    I think I’m also a Digital Native though (or pretty close to it), since my dad started working as a programmer for IBM around 1963 or 1964. I first started playing on a computer at my Uncle’s house (he had a terminal connected to the mainframe at Columbia University) when I was about 10.

    I don’t know if any of this makes a difference to your or your project, but I thought I’d share my thoughts anyway! 🙂

  2. gminks says:

    Thanks Sandra! The timeline project was more about following Mayer’s multi-media principles, I didn’t really have to prove anything with empirical evidence.

    That said — I thought of making the timeline for exactly the reasons you said: you consider yourself a boomer but you grew up with access to a mainframe.

    So OBVIOUSLY I left lots of stuff off the timeline. Hmmm — are Boomers the first digital natives?

    It would be a neat project to expand I think.

  3. I’m GenX – born in 72 and would NOT consider myself a digital native. I had some access to computers in school, but in the context of 1 machine for a class 10-15 kids. Computers were something “extra” you got to do as a reward, good behavior, good grades, depended on the teacher.

    I learned to type in high school on a standard electric type writer. My senior year I took German by satellite and the prospect of doing our homework & pronunciation practice seemed very foreign (if you’ll pardon the pun).

    It wasn’t until college, that I was exposed to regular computer usage for writing and reporting. Word processing programs made working at the campus newspapers infinitely easier. My group of friends also began to play with IRC.

    Even with all that, the Web 2.0 experience often makes me feel like an old fogey. I’m using it for both professional and personal reasons, but it still doesn’t feel natural to me all the time. I’m definitely not comfortable with the digital natives’ different sense of identity and their seeming willingness to put EVERYTHING out there.

  4. virginia Yonkers says:

    Many divide baby-boomers between “early” (the ones who get all the glory) and “late” (in fact, the largest population born in the US until the 1990’s). I was a late baby-boomer, who grew up as technology was being developed. As technology is always changing, the question is (as you so aptly put it) when would there be a generation of “natives”? While the technology might be different, those of us in the late boomers grew up in the age of computation (electronic calculators, mainframe computers, the logic of electronic computation, flow charts). As we have grown, so has the digital landscape. But is there a parallel time line for those that were not part of the electronic age (i.e. the loss of technology which forces people to move to other tools, such as the end the lazer disc, the floppy disc, the manual type writer, the console, the mainframe computer)? This would allow you to see the gap between digital natives and digital immigrants (i.e. the waves of immigration).

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