“You Are not a Digital Native”

digital native I greatly enjoyed this open letter author Cory Doctorow wrote to the teenagers of the world, to celebrate the US paperback release of his novel, Homeland. From the letter:

“The problem with being a “digital native” is that it transforms all of your screw-ups into revealed deep truths about how humans are supposed to use the Internet. So if you make mistakes with your Internet privacy, not only do the companies who set the stage for those mistakes (and profited from them) get off Scot-free, but everyone else who raises privacy concerns is dismissed out of hand. After all, if the “digital natives” supposedly don’t care about their privacy, then anyone who does is a laughable, dinosauric idiot, who isn’t Down With the Kids.”

Doctorow claims that kids actually DO care about their privacy (I have not seen it amongst the teenagers I know, but that is as anecdotal an observation as Doctorow’s is, I suppose) and outlines several tools they can use to control how they share information and with whom. He also writes about the inherent difficulty of teaching consequences when behaviour and consequence can seem so far removed. He cleverly compares the internet privacy issue with the obesity epidemic one: if every bite of cheesecake immediately became a roll of fat, people would find it a lot easier to judge the consequences of their dietary choices. But little lapses pile up over time, the same way sharing one picture on Facebook may not be a big deal, until you wake up one morning to find you’ve accumulated several hundred.

It’s worth a read. Enjoy!

1 Comment on “You Are not a Digital Native”

  1. I think xkcd got this right on the nose.

    http://www.xkcd.com/1370/

    However I heard someone else explain it with “Nobody will be able to run for office and then suddenly everybody will.”

    A major issue in the privacy debate is one of consequence. If there are no consequences to the release of information then there is no risk to said release. We can either can try to control the information or the consequences.

    What sort of world do you want to live in? The one where it is easy to keep things like your sexuality secret so that you don’t get fired from work or beat up on the street…or the world where such information doesn’t matter?

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