AiP readers know that I'm deeply interested in the intersection of digital media and daily life. Last week I had the opportunity to view a mini-documentary by George Haines called Decade 2. It explores how Gen-Y views these technologies in their own words. His target audience is educators, and as I have argued for implementing social tools in the classroom previously, I think this could be an important tool in breaking the ice.
In Decade 2, a group of Gen-Yers give viewers a glimpse of their world, showing the ways in which social and digital media is enmeshed in their daily lives. Done in a very homemade style, viewers feel as though the participants are actually speaking to them via webcam. What emerges is at times expected: the stories of addiction-like tendencies with social media, a seeming reluctance to connect in a one-to-one way—in fact, one participant in this project, Daniel Delaney, emphatically tells viewers NOT to leave him a voicemail. But viewers can't discount the picture that emerges showing the younger workforce engaged in a world that will soon become the norm. And perhaps in addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, it's also time to talk about digital sources, friending, and digital authenticity in education.
While Haines admits this is a skewed depiction of a tech-savvy generation, two points really stick to the viewer. First, that these subjects are operating in a world that didn't exist five years ago. Some hold job titles like Social Media Strategist, and others are entrepreneurs who can shape their job as they want and need using social tools. These are individuals who have learned early the power of technology and shared communication, and they've harnessed it. Second, they're aware that they have needed to find their way in the dark. Several individuals in the documentary discuss how poorly prepared they feel their education has left them. This is an interesting statement when one considers reports that this not a tech savvy generation. And it prompts one to question whether the educational system can support the changing face of connectedness and business overall. For me, it also raised some thought about the digital divide, and how far behind some students may fall without any introduction to social technologies. One of the film's participants says, "Digital literacy is the new English," which to me is an incredibly telling statement about how these young adults view the world.