15 December 2011

The digital other

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In an article for DMLCentral Nishant Shah, founder and director of research for the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society, wants to explore new ways of thinking about the Digital Native.

“Based on my research on young people in the Global South, I want to explore new ways of thinking about the Digital Native. One of the binaries posited as the Digital ‘Other’ — ie, a non-Digital Native — is that of a Digital Immigrant or Settler. I am not comfortable with these terms and they probably need heavy unpacking if not complete abandonment. Standard caricatures of Digital Others show them as awkward in their new digital ecologies, unable to navigate through this brave new world on their own. They may actually have helped produce digital technology and tools but they are not ‘born digital’ and hence are presumed to always have an outsider’s perspective on the digital world order.”

“[There is] a very important distinction between Digital Others and Digital Natives. Out of necessity, Digital Others have a relationship of production, control and design with the technologies they work with. They have a critical engagement with technology, as they code, hack, design, and create protocols and digital environments to suit their needs and resources. Digital Natives, on the other hand, have a purely consumption based interaction with the technology they use.”

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