Friday, November 04, 2005

Yesterday's New York Times has an article on teenagers and their use of digital technology, essentially a story based on the Pew Internet & American Life Project's report "Teen Content Creators and Consumers."

The NYT article begins
Melissa Paredes, a 16-year-old in Lompoc, Calif., maintains a Web site where she writes poetry, posts pictures and shares music. So when she was mourning her stepfather, David Grabowski, earlier this year, she reflexively channeled her grief into a multimedia tribute.

In a self-portrait, Brendan Erazo, 15, working at his turntables on music mixes, which he then offers on the Internet under the name DJ Xsjado.

Using images she collected and scanned from photo albums, she created an online slide show, taking visitors on a virtual tour of Mr. Gabrowski's life - as a toddler, as a young man, at work. A collage of the photographs, titled "David Bruce Grabowski, 1966-2005," closes the memorial.
and they report
Most teenagers online take their role as content creators as a given. Twenty-two percent report keeping their own personal Web page, and about one in five say they remix content they find online into their own artistic creations, whether as composite photos, edited video productions or, most commonly, remixed song files.

The Pew survey shows "the mounting evidence that teens are not passive consumers of media content," said Paulette M. Rothbauer, an assistant professor of information sciences at the University of Toronto. "They take content from media providers and transform it, reinterpret it, republish it, take ownership of it in ways that at least hold the potential for subverting it."

While I wouldn't call 22% and 20% as "most teenagers" or even "most teenagers online," I'll note that the Pew Internet & American Life Project's report states that "Fully half of all teens and 57% of teens who use the internet could be considered Content Creators. They have created a blog or webpage, posted original artwork, photography, stories or videos online or remixed online content into their own new creations" which would justify the NYT's use of "most teenagers." We need to come to terms with what this means. Our youth are, and have been, becoming increasingly digital, which means that we, as a culture, are becoming increasingly digital as well. Teachers, academics, and society at large, need to realize what this means: Our notions of literacy, intellectual property, public and private, plagiarism, social interaction, discourse logics, writing, learning, and noetic practices, to name a few, education centered examples, are all undergoing transformation whether we want them to or not. This doesn't mean that we'll throw out the old for the new, which we've never done (we still talk, we still write, we'll still have books), but that we need to renegotiate our practices be they social, intellectual, economic, or political.

Cross-posted to Machina Memorialis

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