Born Digital

John Palfrey and Urs Gasser’s book about the “Digital Natives” – people born after 1980, the people who came of age with an iPod in one hand and a finger on Napster in the other. These people have most likely never used a phonograph record player, the only thing they know about the Beatles was that their parents liked them, and they haven’t known a president who wasn’t named Bush or Clinton.

This is the modern youth generation.

In 13 chapters, Palfrey and Gasser mention different aspects of this culture. Like how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook, how people can change identities at the drop of a hat, how people can be hardworking, straight A students by day, but dark, evil pirates by night.

Clearly, the Digital Native is one to be in awe of, and be afraid of.

While I was born after 1980 (1982 to be exact), I feel “shoehorned” into the Digital Native lifestyle. My first album was “Weird Al” Yankovic’s 1984 magnum opus, In 3-D on black vinyl. In an age of iPods, I used a Sony Walkman tape player until 2005. Of course, I am up to date on technology today. I recently obtained Al’s latest song on iTunes (Whatever You Like) and while it’s not a modern MP3 player, I do have one.

The only beefs I have with this book is that I already knew quite a bit of the material in it. It’s not the authors’ fault, it’s mine. The other is that while Digital Natives are said to be those born after 1980, I don’t know how many people born in the era between 1980 and 1985 the authors interviewed.

To me, the “true” Digital Native was born after 1985, whereas, like I said above, people born in the early 1980s had access to “old” technology in its heyday before it became defunct.

In the end, I liked this book. It was a great read broken into chunks I could deal with a little at a time.

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