Lee Rainie at the TLT Symposium

“Who’s blogging this right now?” That was the opening question from Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project … over 20 people in a room of about 200 or so faculty, staff, and some students who are here to see what the day holds for them raised their hands. He then asked how many people planned to do so after the fact … wow, surprised me at the number of bloggers in our community. Great start and a nice way to make the point that events are and will continue to be more open than ever before … let me just say that this post is a weak attempt at trying to keep up with the self proclaimed, “rain man.”

Realities of the Digital Natives

Digital media ecology is ever expanding … in the 1970’s there were these little things that were in the home … phone, TV, radio and not much else. Now the world is so insanely crazy in the way in which we access and control information is outrageous. 43% listen to radio not on their radio … 20% watch TV not on their TV. What is going on is that the young are allocating their time differently because of all this — 8.5 hours a day consuming media. That is more time than they spend in schools, sleeping, or any other activity.

New gadgets allow people to enjoy media, gather info and carry on communication in real time … the cell phone is at the center of this. What is interesting is that they are using their phones for so much more than calls. Adults don’t take advantage of their phones — he calls it feature fatigue. Young people are sharing their pictures at a very high rate — somewhere between 50-67%. Big change was in 8/2005 more laptops sold than desktops for the first time — “the Internet has become the computer.” You can be present when you are absent, and absent when you are present. Presence has been changed by all this. The devices let conversations continue even after the face to face is over … “conversation is in the air just as oxygen is in the air” … interesting point.

The Internet (especially broadband)is at the center of the revolution … “if you can’t be found on Google you don’t exist.” We are now right around 50% of broadband in the home … broadband users are much more likely to be producers of content than dial up users. Young people are much more interested in the amateur video content and are much more likely to comment on it. The audience now wants to be a part of the media maker market … this makes multi-tasking a way of life. The availability of media adds more stress to our lives — we dare not come off the grid. Some research is showing that young people can toggle between activities much more quickly.

Ordinary citizens have a chance to be publishers, movie makers, artists, song creators, and story tellers … new report coming next week talking about teens and their use of social networks. 55% of teens have online profiles … they are sharing photos, videos (22%), and anything that they can make. A third of them are the ones who build and support websites and other technology for their families and organizations they belong to. 33% of college students have blogs. 20% of young adults have created avatars that interact with others online. In many cases they feel as though they are creating and sharing with a very small audience — mainly for a small group of friends.

Everything will change even more … in other words, buckle up b/c we have no idea where this is heading. Computing, storage, and communications power are increasing and growing at a very similar rate as Moore’s Law. In the next few years we’ll figure out how to push even more data through the air. Michael Wesch’s video on web 2.0 is the wrap up.

I gotta say, seeing 240 PSU people sitting and thinking about all this is inspiring to me … I’m sure I’ve missed stuff, but the podcast will be available soon!

Lee obviously cited his own work at Pew, but also pulled some very interesting results from the Kaiser Family Foundation report, Generation M.

9 thoughts on “Lee Rainie at the TLT Symposium

  1. So, geography has usually driven locations where people lived, worked, socialized. Access to food, transportation, raw materials, security tended to determine where people settled.

    With the ‘Net now being where people hang-out, learn, socialize, even earn a livng, will new cities develop, will people move to find quality of life, and what will define quality?

  2. It cuts both ways for me – the availability of media causes more stress for me on some days, relieves it on others. And the bulk of the stress comes from the inability to hide from the fact that I’m missing things. I am reminded hundreds of times a day that I won’t be able to digest all I want to.

  3. Jeff, that is an interesting thought. I was talking with both Bryan Alexander and Lee this morning and how Bryan has set up a co-op so they can bring broadband to their community. I think the idea that fat pipes are now a part of a location-centric decision is probably new to a lot of people. I would honestly think twice about living in a house I couldn’t get it in.

  4. I find myself being more stressed when I am away from technology. Having access has made me rely so much on the constant availability of information that I find myself worried I am missing something when off line. I know it is crazy, but I have gotten to the point where I am more stressed if I don’t have the opportunity to deal with issues in the moment. Not sure if that is part of the multi-tasking Lee mentions, but I am much better at dealing in the moment. Maybe something to work on?

  5. I don’t find it particularly steressful that I’m missing something — I’ve ALWAYS been missing a lot. Now there’s more to miss, but also more to catch. I think that the key is to get in the flow of ideas from a group of people whose thinking you respect, and then catch what you can. An idea here and there, with a good group of people to discuss that idea iwth can be very valuable. It’s like pulling water from a stream. I don’t need all of it.

    With that said, I think that it’s also important, at least for me, to be able to step out of that stream and concentrate. I’ve got to shut the stream off to produce. I think I’ll collect, then produce, then converse about the products.


  6. Jeff K., me and the tutors had that very same discussion on Saturday. The consensus we came to was that all things being equal, given the technological affordances being there, and the nature of the job allowing it, we would all go for quality of life over geography. The fun really started when we talked about what that meant to us. Two of us said we’d live in a big city, but for very different reasons, while one of us chose a more laid-back beach locale, and the other one of us absolutely loves the college town atmosphere.

    Now with things being the way they are this could be a reality. We could form a company, run it at a profit, while simultaneously living very separate dreams when it came to the way we created our lives.

  7. Pingback: The Professor’s Notes - Where my thoughts and your eyes (and now ears!) collide » Digital Natives

  8. i thought this link/editorial would go well with this discussion:

    Just open that serotonin throttle and cruise through your in-box, unhampered by fancied slights, groundless anxieties and other impediments to bliss. (Your mileage may vary.) And, bliss aside: Imagine the efficiency! With the time you don’t spend worrying about Joe, you can crank out e-mail to Jim, Sally and Sue. And efficiency is what e-mail is about, right? By ending the need to coordinate schedules, it lets us interact with lots of people — and interact along such narrow channels that we skip the bother of getting to know an entire human being.

    Prozac 2.0, anyone?
    🙂 — ;(

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