This month's big question from LCB centres on whether it is necessary to design differently for digital natives.
For me, the first hurdle is that I question the relevance of the whole native/immigrant thing. I find insupportable the notion that there is a point in history which serves as a watershed.
Yes, there are people who were born after digital technology became part of the scenery, and those who were born before, but so what? Technology has existed since man rubbed two sticks together to make fire (and threw sharpened sticks at animals so that they could cook them over that fire). So we are all native some form of technology. Technological advancements are now happening so fast that people born today are native to a technology that people born last week, last month, last year are not.
Also, a person born in one part of the (so-called flat) world has no access to the technology freely available elsewhere, so being born into the "digital era" doth not a native make.
Many are the people, born well before the hypothetical digital watershed, who have taken to the technology without a murmur, while others born long after haven't the foggiest. This matter has been addressed in inimitable style (which will be utterly lost on anyone who struggles with the concept of irony) over the past few of days by the irascible Grandad, one of my favourite bloggers (language warning). On the other hand, my nieces, born indisputably into the digital era, can't blog about their difficulties with the technology, because they wouldn't have a clue how!
Rather than trying to divide people into two camps, I would suggest that we approach each project without preconceived ideas:
- Who is my audience for this project?
- What do they need in relation to this initiative?
- What is the best way to meet their needs, taking into account all factors, constraints and available tools?
One size does not fit all. One size doesn't even fit most. One size fits one size... and one shape.