Friday, March 09, 2007

Social Networking: The Next Generation

I forgot about this article from The Washington Post until today when my ridiculous hunt for a hard-to-find Webkinz for my niece's birthday took my dialing finger and half a tank of gas. You see, she lives across the country from my kids, and they want to be able to interact more. So I thought I'd see if they could play together in real time using the popular stuffed-animals-with-a-life. Unfortunately my search apparently coincided with a Canadian railroad strike which is keeping the popular virtual pets off store shelves in the Northeast, where they are all the rage.

If you have kids between 6 and 12, you probably already know what I'm talking about. If not, this article is the best explanation I've seen. (The Post web site includes a video demo by the article's author, Ylan Mui.)

The article was published early in February--coincidentally a few days after David Warlick's presentation of "Digital Natives" at the Publishing 2.0 pre-conference seminar of the American Association of Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division Conference (AAP/PSP). A digital native is a person who was "born digital". Warlick introduced us to the teenage cyborg with a laptop connected to the internet, a VOIP headset, a cell phone earpiece, and a gaming system all going simultaneously. His point was that this creature isn't going to respond the same way to traditional learning environments as we did, and that we had better adapt in order to reach him.

O brave new world, that has such people in't! The freakiest part is that two of them are mine...

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