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The Digital Ecosphere I

Digital Ecosphere I

The digital natives, survive on the “digital oxygen” of portable music, ubiquitous connection through cell phone, and would avoid going to places where these connections – that connects them to their friends, multimedia, information, etc – might cease. (this would have implications for travel, tourism n transport industry) This ecosphere is composed of digital devices such as cell phones, portable music players, computer/Laptop, TiVo (and such digital tools that transfer control of content of mass media to the user), digital camera, gaming consoles etc.

These devices essentially cater to the following characteristics of Digital Native:

  1. Control: Digital Natives don’t want to be ‘subjected’ to content, but would rather choose what they want to experience. This desire for control affects the preference and use of digital devices around them. Hence DNs would rather watch their favorite TV program on Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) and Web TV. They prefer ‘experience’ to a simple message being casted (broad or otherwise.) on them.
  1. Impatience: Digital Natives own multiple devices that provide access to a very wide range of communication and content services. They are increasingly consuming several types of content at once, rapidly switching attention from one source to another, a manifestation of the time poverty that afflicts them. In the US, 25% of teenagers’ media time in a typical day consists, of overlapping media experiences. (Source: NPD Group’s “Kid’s Leisure Time II”, 2007) This incessant hopping from one media/content to another in search for something better, results in ‘attention thinning’. Also, the explosion of choices had necessitated them to ‘snack’ on the “micro-chunks” of content. Micro chunks are essentially stripped down, fragmented format content. DNs access these through Search engines and RSS feeds that allows for search 'bits of content' that is relevant to them. DNs increasingly snack on content such as TV episode recaps, Sport Highlights, User created short films, or single music tracks.

Digital Natives are efficient ad avoiders as well, if the ad is perceived as non entertaining or non informative.

  1. Community Interaction: In this age of nucleated relations and liberated individuals, digital natives fulfill the need of community interaction through the use of new technologies to communicate, interact and stay connected on their own terms. Digital devices allow them to remain connected to their friends 24/7 and at the same time afford them certain degree of control and privacy.

The community interactions are being shaped by the need of DN to belong and the need of an identity. Like in real life, these needs are met in the digital world with community formation based on conversation. Internet has turned the world into a global village and one can indulge in conversation with anyone and anytime from anywhere. This is assisted with such digital tools such as social networking websites, chat, IMs, blogs etc. Digital natives are quick to see the benefits that could accrue of this “crowd sourced” intelligence. They trust ‘peer-generated’ or ‘crowd sourced’ content for opinions, help, or even purchase decisions. Amazon.com and netflix.com are making good use of this trait by recommending the buyer on their website, things that fellow buyers have bought with similar interest. About 60% of Netflix’s movie based customers decided upon their purchase decision on user recommendations tailored to their individual tastes. (Marketwatch, “User Generated Content: Recap of 2006 and what to expect in 2007,” 4 January, 2007)

Also, the conversations (comments) contribute 30% of the volume of the blogosphere.

  1. Originality: Digital Natives, being vanguards of digital everything and aware of it - are hungry for 'new', 'innovative', 'different' like never before. This might have a clue as to why DNs switch from one service to another so frequently, and with much passion.And in the vein of the spirit of digital nativity, they are actively creating a lot of original content. This content maybe in the form of video on youtube, create music with the help of soundsnap, share it on myspace or numerous such sites, presentation slides on slideshare , data on data360 or swivel, original artwork on deviantart and artuproar, stories and experiences on blogs... If there ever was an intellectual revolution, it is now with everyone empowered to think and express freely without fear.
21st century has ushered the youth into a confident world, confident to express their identities, confident to be independent minded. Coupled with the growing competition that they face, there is a need to demonstrate one's abilities and originality like never before. DNs do so by publishing creative online identities through personal profiles on social networking sites. A significant industry is growing to enable users to customize their profiles. DNs are using professional quality technology (in some cases, widely available thanks to piracy) to create better quality content. Some companies actively provide these tools to promote innovation and harness talent.

In the next post, we will discuss the components of this ecosphere.


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