My favorite April Fool's joke this year was the announcement that The Guardian Newspaper was closing down their presses and set to start transmitting all news via Twitter. The press release carefully noted that "experts" agree that you can tell any story in 140 characters. . .
I was still laughing about the Guardian faux press release when I stumbled upon an article by Gord Hotchkiss entitled The Wiring of the Digital Native.
Mr. Hotchkiss argues young people are learning the language of digital technology from birth, the rest of us are trying to catch up as adults. We may become quite proficient but will never have the fluency of the younger generation. In effect they are digital natives while the rest of us are immigrants.
I know that my daughter and I have very different ways of finding and processing information. She consumes her information in small rapid bursts. Google, blogs, tweets and wikis are her "go to" sources. She intuitively knows that all information is linked. She also expects that she can easily find a community who knows something about anything she wants to know. All she has to do is tweet.
I instinctively immerse myself in a topic and spend hours digging out the important bits. I know, intellectually, that information is linked but struggle to find out how. Twittering doesn't occur to me because the idea that 140 characters is the key to communication is an anathema to me.
We look for, read and process information in very different ways. She has an ability to quickly grab information that I will never have. Her's was built in a connected world. My abilities were honed in libraries with card catalogs, index cards and bibliographies. The pathways in our brains are incredibly different.
The implications for the future of education, publishing and reading are enormous. In a world where readers believe that all information and people are linked, you can't help but wonder how long, one dimensional and analytical books will survive.