Following Steven's post (http://giscussions.blogspot.com/2009/07/digital-paper-divide.html) and a recent LinkedIn discussion topic on web 2.0/social networking tools (I think you'd have to be a member of the ASPATech Discussion Group), we are becoming better I think at articulating the 'digital divde' though not necessarily at bridging it.
'Yoof' culture is entwined with converged digital tools in a way that remains baffling to many over even 35; the blogosphere is allegedly already in decline as bloggers migrate to the instant 140 characters of Twitter; the digital literati to a great extent exist in their (our) own self-fulfilling worlds of filtered, customised content streams; 'free' is the future and our right; a new supplier is just a click away....and so on and so on.
On the other hand, news stands, bookshops, DVD rental and even music shops continue to exist (but for how long I hear some holler); 140 characters does not a valid opinion make; everyone has a right to eat; businesses are hungry to employ people with ingrained technical literacy; loyalty and inertia do not a fluid market make.
As ever, it is always far more complex than the black and white often painted by both conventional and online mediarati. And this is what I think is beginning to change. With time as polarisation dissolves so a greater understanding emerges and from there social, economic, cultural and political models will evolve and adapt to the opportunities and mitigate the threats. This is not to say that the private or public sectors have sat idly by far from it; whether you like the current government or not their efforts at digital engagement across many areas will not be unravelled by whoever comes next. And the mushroming of innovation in business, from the rightly maligned City to the now connected rural fringes (our office is by a trout stream on the Hampshire borders - and why not?!) to the 'always on' bedroom coders, underpins our digital economy.
We really don't have the time to wait for the 'digital natives' to transmogrify into conventional 'leaders' and we can't leave the 'don't get it' leaders to continue as they are. Different communities and interest groups have a great deal to learn from each other - this is not a one way street. Recognition is a key step, language another vital key - dismissive commentary and noises off are unhelpful - dialogue is essential, familiarisation breeds confidence, barriers are lowered, rapprochements are made. Its not that hard, requiring curiosity and an open mind.
Concorde 214 G-BOAG, Seattle,USA
5 weeks ago