A wee bit more on ‘the new digital divide’…

A quick follow-up to yesterday’s meandering post… Jeff McClurken commented that it’s a bit too easy to posit all students as comfortable with social software, when an apparent majority of them are not embracing these technologies. My experience with students at UBC supports Jeff’s assertion — I recently gave two weblog workshops to two cohorts of Education students and was struck by the vast disparities in technical skills, web literacy and comfort with the approach.

To get a sense of how adoption of social software can diverge even amongst groups of professional techies, check out today’s post from Roland Tanglao, describing a gathering of former employees of Northern Telecom:

In a gathering of 20 or so people from the software world (like the ex Nortelers) in Silicon Valley I bet several would be bloggers, several would be involved heavily in open source and several would have started their own businesses.

As far as I can tell (except for myself), nobody at yesterday’s gathering was any of those things. And I am not dissing my fellow Nortelers (they are smart people, but lots of smart people everywhere missed the beginning of the the blogging, RSS and open source wave that’s sweeping over us but hey it’s 2005 and these people are geeks, so seize the day Vancouver geeks it’s coming to Vancouver whether you like it or not!), that’s just the way it is!

Roland’s explanation seems geographically oriented, suggesting that slow adoption has something to do with Vancouver’s developer culture — and maybe it does, but I find it hard to denigrate a city that spawned both Flickr and Bryght as fundamentally out of step.

Given the similarities in complaints made by educators and developers, it’s quite possible a broader explanation might apply. Perhaps the power of social software is not as compelling as those of us who’ve drank the electric kool-aid like to think (may I be forgiven for my sacrilege). Or maybe there are fundamental psychological or temperamental characteristics that determine whether someone “gets it” or not…

Man, don’t I wish I had more to say on this.

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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