Saturday, 7 October 2017

I have digital indigestion.

If you have graduated into the workforce since 2009 academics refer to you as a digital native.  From your earliest memories you have been online.  You move effortlessly between your real world and your on-line world.  You have been liberated from the didacticism that the rest of us suffer. You are democratic. You are not constrained by geography or budget.  You listen, engage and share.  Your approach is open.

digital immigrant at Castletown House, Celbridge

Academics refer to the rest of us as digital immigrants. We make traditional presentations.  We tell, explain, elaborate or instruct.  We retain the power and the influence.   We demand up front commitment from you.   We are inflexible. 

We want to get attention.  You want to give attention. We want to broadcast.  You want to interact.  We monologue.  You dialogue.

Of course there are many more that two types of me’s and you’s – and I like to make stuff up - so let’s create another category of person that lies between the digital immigrant and the digital native. 
digital inbetweenie at Castletown House, Celbridge

Let’s call this person the excitable digital inbetweenie.

If the traditionalist, the digital immigrant, wants to share stories with you, they create a magazine. They spend time writing and editing and coaxing contributors.  They follow a format that has grown over time and it familiar to you. They use graphic design and illustration to make it beautiful.  They print it.  They post it to your home or deliver it to your workplace in an envelope.  They want you to touch it, to own it, to show it to your family and friends, even to write on it.  This process is time consuming and expensive.  They can’t prove that you’ve read it. Is seems that they are using a format that is doomed.

If the excitable digital inbetweenie wants to share stories with you they will create an e-zine.  They will bomb their e-zine out to everyone in their database.  Gadgets excite them.  They want to broadcast. They don’t care about the writing.  They don’t notice if their CEOs face is stretched or elongated or if their logo is positioned correctly.  They don’t care if it’s full of unexplained acronyms or boring. They want to GET IT OUT.  They haven’t really figured out how to use analytics.  If the reader has opened it – that’ll do – that’s the same as having read it.
fully fledged at Castletown House, Celbridge

The fully-fledged digital native, however, is different.  These guys combine traditional methods with digital aproaches.  And - they won’t send their e-zine to everyone in their database.  They will give the reader an opportunity to opt in or out.  They would prefer to talk to 1,000 people who are listening than to bomb it out to 10,000.  They can afford to do this because they know where each and every one of us is in their sales cycle.  Their plan is to get their readers/customers to become advocates and they know how to do it. They know that if we give them permission to communicate with us - and if they do it well and give us value – they can communicate with us for life – for FREE.


I am a na├»ve digital geriatric. 

Recently I asked Pinterest to show me minimalist dresses – shift style. Up they came and for ages I was absorbed.  The nicest were on Victoria Beckham and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.  It was an enjoyable exercise.

Over the coming days I noticed that Ms Beckham and Middleton and other women wearing shift dresses were everywhere I turned. When I searched YouTube they appeared on video. When I read the news online there they were in the margins, on the banners, in the middle of articles. 

‘Funny how the shift dresses I like are suddenly all the rage’, I thought as I sat on the bus scanning the news channels on Twitter before settling into the Irish Times. And then the penny dropped.  The man beside me was also reading the Irish Times on his mobile device - but was he getting adverts about shift dresses?  No.  His were for Haemorrhoid cream. 

‘Be careful what you wish for’ the elders in my tribe used to say. ‘Be careful what you look up’ they would say now.

In a very interesting article in the Huffington Post Jeff DeGall tells us that we will come full circle.  He tells us that in time children of digital natives will come to act like digital immigrants because ‘generations are simply oppositional in nature’.  Read it HERE.

This all can be confusing, even head wrecking – and there is no doubt, even for natives, that it’s important to take breaks from the digital landscape.

So – for now, maybe the very best remedy for digital indigestion is to curl up, as often as we can, for as long as we have them, with our favourite book or magazine?
Offline at Castletown House, Celbridge