Digital natives don’t blog?

There's an interesting post over on jill/txt where she wonders if students are losing interesting in blogging due to the novelty having worn off. She writes "Basically they just ignore it all. And they're smart interested students. Who are bizarrely enough writing papers about blogging while saying they don't really understand blogging." Conversely, it seems her students are much enthused by Facebook.
What I am wondering about are the discussions we've been having about digital immigrants vs digital natives. The discussion was sparked by Jess's post on Frontline where she adopts some terminology from Mark Prensky.

Marc Prensky says digital natives are born into technology and thus are native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. Prensky also has a term for those of the Luddite persuasion; digital immigrants might adopt most aspects of the techy environment but will always retain their accent.

One could argue that contemporary graduate students might well be blog natives; blogging is nothing new to them. Yet, ironically, if so, they are less interested in blogging than those who have come to it new. Research into the "real world" tends to reveal that immigrants vary between those who try to completely embrace the culture of the host land and those who try to retain the "old world" culture. Perhaps the interest in blogging over the last few years has been driven by those "immigrants" who wanted to adopt this new technology; the 'Luddites' simply didn't engage with it. As we enter an era in which, perhaps, blogging is seen as normal then what me might see is the occasional surge of interest as new groups of "digital immigrants" discover it. E.g. elder bloggers, perhaps even Aibo bloggers.
One of the things we may notice about transliteracy is that it may routinely disappear. What I mean by that is that examples of transliteracy may be more noticeable among digital immigrants as they start to experiment with new media. Once we become digital natives, the use of the new media may become second nature and the transliterate use of this new media may become normalised and in becoming normalised become invisible.

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5 thoughts on “Digital natives don’t blog?

  1. Interesting to see the idea of digital natives and immigrants drawn into it. I don’t think current students ARE digital natives, though. Sure, they all know how to use email and they can set up a blog withou t me having to explain much, but they don’t really use it all very much – I mean, obviously they use Word, but otherwise they seem to just use MSN messenger and email the same way as they use their mobile phones.
    But then that might be what you’re getting at. A digital native wouldn’t be particularly enthusiastic about digital stuff. She’d just take it for granted and not really care about it. Why vote, after all, if you’ve grown up in a democracy and take “freedom” (of a kind) for granted? At least I assume that’s why people don’t vote.
    Hm.

  2. I think there is a much simpler explanation for these students not being interested in blogging: they have nothing much of interest to say to anyone beyond their own social group, and communicating within one’s own social group is much better handled by Myspace or Facebook. I strongly suspect that if you follow these students over a period of 10 years, many of them will use blogs, and use them as ‘natives’…

  3. My grandchildren are effective digital natives. They text and phone as normally as they breathe. Why would they blog? – in the days of diaries and journal-keeping, not everyone who could write kept a diary.
    Chris’s point about ‘why bother, I’ve nothing to say to people who I don’t know and who don’t know me’ certainly rings a bell with me.
    For me the immigrant, however, the idea of communicating with the whole world is amazing and delightful and more fun than keeping a diary.
    For students, the idea of being ‘told to’ blog could be off-putting too, I’d guess.

  4. Some interesting comments here. I think part of the issue might come down to an old question of what is a blog? A blog is not exactly like anything that existed before but, of course, we all try to understand it in relation to pre-existing forms. Talking with a panel member at the IOCT yesterday (after a fascinating discussion about the future of language), non-bloggers (of whom I was one 6 months ago) had a stereotype of the blogger as someone who types “I had sausage and beans for dinner yesterday”. I.e. someone living a self-absorbed, rather lonely life. That brought home to me the fact that I’m not sure there’s a really an understanding of what a blog is as a part of culture.
    Looking at blogs on myspace and other social network sites, it quickly becomes apparent that most blogs are not diaries. For many, they’re a place to circulate various “do this list of questions” types of things and other games. For students (the purported digital natives), the idea of using a blog as a public diary might actually seem rather alien. As far as I can tell, for many teens, blogging – as far they use the term – is about playing social games.
    I do find myself wondering whether in 20 years, the complex blogging architecture that we immigrants have derived will look as old-fashioned as 1987 Usenet looks to us now. I’m sure some people still use Usenet.

  5. Oh yes, some people still swear by Usenet and tend to view everything since as a series of rather tawdry developments!
    Your point about how non-bloggers view blogs is spot on (I was the same a year ago, and made the mistake of swearing never to have a blog). There are so many other uses for blogs – Randy Adams’ great text and art remix blog, for example. But the common perception is still very much of the ‘sausage and beans for dinner’ variety.
    From Howies ( http://www.howies.co.uk/images/cms/wallpaper/800×600/ws_32.jpg ) – ‘the revolution will not be televised, it will be blogged’. Of course it will be televised too, just more slowly and without pages of comments.

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