What I would suggest is that we are going towards a world where there is going to be a “digital literate elit”, i.e. people that use the internet to their advantage, i.e. to know the right things and connect to the right people – and a “digital illiterate class” which will not be able to advance itself since it uses the internet just for social reasons or entertainment. And like in all early stages of new societies (this is what I think at least, but my sociology knowledge is limited however), the latter is going to be massive and the former a tiny priviledged minority.
There is too much information out there! Have you noticed? In a way I feel sorry for the people that are starting their lives now since the volumes of available information are increasing exponentially. I can spend my whole day following updates of the people I follow on twitter and clicking on the links they are referring to without even reading any of the links.
Is this right? Are we going towards the right direction?
Such a huge percentage of people puts information online. Useful, interesting, useless, all mixed up. If I start blaming anyone, I should start with myself: I over the last three years I have started three blogs.
There was a conference this week somewhere in the US. It was called Future of Web 2010. The papers that summarize the plenary talks of that conference are on the massive virtual pile that I will be reading in the hope that they have something to suggest about this issue.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all pro-information and pro-knowledge and pro-open access! So much that I consider this statement a bit pointless: I cannot think how could anyone not be pro-knowledge.
The reason why I ask the above question is that I have a feeling that something needs to change: this is not the way forward. Most internet users are not using it like me: for example they follow their friends, musicians and celebrities on twitter instead of people whose work they are interested in.
I am not talking about digital natives and immigrants here, because I sometimes feel like an immigrant too. Yes I am using most Web 2.0 tools, yes I am very good at finding information online – maybe too good by the looks of it – but I am not as digitally native as I thought I was. Imagine what this little girl will be like when she reaches high-school:
I would also like to mention that I am not sure that the digital illiterates have it wrong. These people are out there socialising in the digital world. After all, we are human beings: we want to entertain and amuse ourselves. But in terms of their careers and hence in terms of the position of this new society and their ability to put food on their table, they will definitely have a disadvantage. It is not about access to the information. It is about the fact that these people are not looking for it. Not because they are stupid. Just because they are human.
And with the speed that information is increasing, I cannot say that I blame them!
UPDATE (5/3/2013): Twitter Reaction to Events Often at Odds with Overall Public Opinion