Sunday, February 03, 2008

Another daft assumption dismissed

A report, commissioned by JISC and the British Library, counters the common assumption that the ‘Google Generation’ (as the report calls them) – young people born or brought up in the Internet age – are the most adept at using the web.

The research shows that although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to asses the information that they find on the web.

It is a bit like saying that because an 18 year-old knows how to use an ipod means they are technology competent. All it means is that they know where to plug in the earphones and how to make the thing work. Not exactly a comprehensive measure of technology excellence.

Most young people I know, probably rightly, take the attitude I don’t care how it works as long as it does. Where older people often appear technology slow is that they keep asking questions like: “why is it called desktop” and “how does a web site know that I have visited it before” and “why is called a cookie”.

As a matter of fact: “why is it called a cookie” – “do wikis have cookies” – “when does a multiple access blog become a wiki”? Dick Stroud

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