the downside of the information society

I talked at Daytona Session vol 2 yesterday. One of my themes was generation noll koll (in English it would be something like the generation that don’t know what’s going on, and it’s an allusion to their own definition of media, namely “to know what’s going on”, or in Swedish “att ha koll”). There are some studies published now that look at the affect of using the digital media technology. I mentioned for example The dumbest generation written by a professor in English at Emory University, Mark Bauerlain. Bauerlain talk about 18 to 30 years old Americans and that they lack in knowledge. Also in Axess number 9/2008 there was an interesting article about how the human brain is transformed by the overload of information. Nicholas Carr writes that in spite of the fact that the information is endless today many studies show that the knowledge is lowered. The super fast media (internet) lead to problems with concentration and deep reading and therefore also deep thinking. Why did I talk about this? Because when we do our ethnographic studies we can see this. In society in general the idea is that technology will improve and make things better, especially the media technology will lead to an “information super highway”. To talk about the downside of this media technology is not really political correct. But the thing is that we have to start to consider this. Most older people (35+) and companies today think that the digital generation is IT-literate; that the youngster without problem can orient themselves in all different types of web contexts and find information. That is not the case. Some of the young media users know perfectly well how to use MySpace, Facebook ect, to communicate with their friends and upload photos, but have severe difficulties finding information outside their “bubbles”. It’s a “generational cocoon” as Bauderlain writes. What I try to highlight is that companies who want to communicate with this group need to understand this and don’t say “let’s use the internet” as the only place to be. And in the long run it will of course be interesting to see if the knowledge capital will be lowered. But to say that a generation is dumber is to take it too far… But some media seems to like to make this connection (!


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