The Culture of Interaction
A new youth culture, one that involves more than just the pop culture of music, MTV and the movies, is emerging out of N-Gen's use of interactive media. It also involves the experience of being part of the largest generation in the world. We should pay attention to this culture which will very soon create the workplace and the society of tomorrow.
The Ten Themes of N-Gen Culture
- Strong Independence
The typical N-Gener has a strong sense of independence & autonomy. N-Gen's unprecedented access to information also gives them the power to acquire the knowledge necessary to confront information they feel may not be correct.
- Emotional and Intellectual Openness
When N-Geners go online they expose themselves. They will maintain online journals and post their innermost thoughts on a Web page or in a chat room. A strong online example of N-Geners' openness is The Diary Project where young people around the world contribute their thoughts, feelings, experiences and aspirations.
N-Geners are moving toward greater social inclusion with technology, not exclusion. Their creative processes show a move toward global orientation in all of their activities. Check out a virtual community of about 30,000 N-Geners at Freezone.
- Free Expression and Strong Views
Being exposed to a lot of information on the Internet is to their benefit, insists N-Gen, and is a key element of the Internet's appeal and usefulness. This issue is discussed in The Generation Lap.
N-Geners live and breathe innovation, constantly looking for ways to do things better. These expectations of constant change and the ability to build or construct experiences have implications in our discussion of N-Gen Thinking and the education of N-Gen in N-Gen Learning.
- Preoccupation with Maturity
The changing nature of childhood makes itself most obvious when N-Geners are contrasted with the baby boomers who, as a generation, have spent their lives obsessed with being youthful. N-Geners insist that they are more mature than adults expect.
When it comes to technology, N-Gen's initial focus is not how it works but how to work it. It is important for children to understand the assumptions inherent in software and to feel empowered to change those assumptions.
When the Internet first became popular, one of the joys of surfing was never knowing what site you could end up at next. Search engines like Yahooligans have contributed to ending that level of mystery and uncertainty.
Interactivity and the speed of the Net have greatly increased the process of communicating. What used to take days or weeks, now takes seconds.
- Sensitivity to Corporate Interest
N-Geners feel that much of the broadcasting material they see on television is there to satisfy corporate agendas. However, on the Internet there has been such a flurry of creation involving so many people working in home-grown cottage industries, that there is even more intense sensitivity to corporate interest.
- Authentication and Trust
Because of the anonymity, accessibility, diversity, and ubiquity of the Net, children must continually authenticate what they see or hear. Many sites provide inaccurate, invalid and even deceptive information. Pranksters spread false rumours. Who can the child trust? What sources of information are valid? Authentication of everything is required to establish trust.
The proliferation of Internet hoaxes spread via e-mail has often been used to emphasize the inherent weakness of the Net. Don't Spread That Hoax! is one site that gives credence to that question.
Are you part of a cyber community?
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