Today's LinkedIn Nugget

Digital immigrants and digital natives

digital immigrants, digital nativesNo, I’m not taking a political position here, but rather recognizing a cultural one.

I heard those 2 terms on the radio in a business report the other day. Perhaps I am late to the party, but I was unfamiliar with these names until now.

Wikipedia divides the universe into two:

“The term digital native describes a person that grows up in the digital age, rather than acquiring familiarity with digital systems as an adult, as a digital immigrant.”

{Ahem, digital immigrants might recognize the obvious grammar error of using “that” and not “who” in this quote. Digital natives will likely not.}

Thus, digital immigrants, chronologically gifted like me, were those born before the dawn of the internet.

Said another way, digital natives are those who never knew of rolodexes, rotary phones, black and white TV, and telephone party lines. They grew up in an online world of database management, VOIP, cable news, and mobile phones, all devouring data and time and attention.

My experience in public speaking about the merits of LinkedIn definitely has me bobbing and weaving among people from both digital birthspheres, sometimes in the same room, a few technophobes who seem young enough to be digital natives, and frequently, digital immigrants whose work has developed them to masters of the digital universe. For case studies on the latter, see Janet Granger’s book “Digital Influence for Baby Boomers.”

No real LinkedIn divide is more obvious to me than the way digital natives use LinkedIn on a mobile phone and differentiate themselves from digital immigrants who only abide LinkedIn in its weakened version on a tiny screen, yet prefer it offering more on a larger desktop screen. Not a vision issue, a content and control preference. Suit yourself. Just be fluent in LinkedIn, in either dialect.

This generational denominator reminds me of a LinkedIn session I gave to a group of young professionals and at the end, the last question was more a cultural commentary. He summed my session up with a memorable comment “for an old guy you know your technical stuff.”

If I have repeated that story in this blog before, forgive this digital immigrant whose memory hard drive may need defragging, OK? 


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