Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Digital identity

            Digital identity has become increasingly prominent in defining Americans, particularly over the past few decades with the staggering improvements and modification of technology. The most recognizable worldwide digital companies have been the creation and development of American innovators, such as Youtube and Facebook. The article from CNN featuring this issue, raises concerns over the idea of digital immigrants being 'a relic of the past' and summarizes these two conflicting terms as the "generational switchover where people are defined by the technological culture which they're familiar with."
            Prensky, the producer of these terms and this argument between Native and Immigrant argues that any slowdown in the digital age is a "myth," as innovation will only press forward "faster... And faster and faster." This is evident over 10 years after Prensky introduced this issue as can be seen by any statistics on the subject. The Social Networking Fact Sheet by the Pew Internet Researchers reveals that as of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites. Facebook, as expected appears to come out at the top with 71% of online adults use this site. Most interestingly is the jump figures such as these have made in the past decade alone; between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites among young adult internet users ages 18-29 jumped from 9% to 49%. Also, between the years 2005 and 2013, 90% of 18-29 years old internet users were using social networking in comparison to 46% 65+ year olds. This continues to reveal that this is something that has been embraced in particular by young people, hence the term used to describe them (digital native) and there is clearly a divide here between this group and the older generation (digital immigrants).
            However, there is a group of people outside America who have not joined the group, not just digital immigrants. That is those who are poverty stricken, as the CNN article states: "As technology filters into every corner of the globe and tech cities spring up in some unlikely places from Bangalore to Tel Aviv, a new gulf is emerging to separate the digitally savvy from the disconnected: Poverty. According to Shah, Prensky's views were formed from the "privileged" position of living in the U.S. Shah added: "[Prensky's] observations may describe a generation gap that the U.S. faced, but if you transplant the same definition to other parts of the world, natives are sometimes indistinguishable from immigrants."
            Another issue for this ever-growing digital world is that of digital identity, this is particularly due to it being mostly based on trust. Significantly, digital identity is something that can be changes at the click of a button, obviously extremely different from an individual's real-life identity.  Most recently, sites such as Youtube are attempting to encourage their users to use their real names in order to post a comment, there is still no way however to verify whether this is their true identity. Therefore, it is difficult to predict where digital identity will be in the future or indeed whether the gap between natives and immigrants will decrease; however as Prensky argued over a decade ago it seems clear that this is something that most definitely will not be slowing down any time soon.


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