Two Degrees of Facebook

So, we all know the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, right? And probably its derivative Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. (Excuse the use of Wikipedia but I’m not explaining rocket science. And if it’s good enough for our Federal Environment Minister to use to disprove a link between climate change and increased bushfire intensity then I think I’m safe in this instance.)

Let me assume that it doesn’t take a mathematician (I am one but that’s irrelevant) to work out that this theory is seriously out of date in this age of social media.

It all came home to me when I inadvertently wandered into the ‘People You May Know’ section of Facebook.

I was bored so I scrolled down the list. Lots of people I kind of know, lots of people I don’t know at all but are friends with my friends so Facebook (who wants the whole world to be friends, bless ’em) thinks I should be friends with them too, and people I know who are friends with other people I know but whom I did not know were friends with the people I know.

It’s all a little bit creepy.

And then there’s the suggestion of people you don’t know and who also seem not to have any mutual friends in common. What’s with that?

I usually try to be friends with people I want to be Friends with (with a capital F) so I ignored Facebook’s suggestions.

And having recently learned that a flesh and blood, pre-social media, long-term friend has just been through a really rough time, I think my energies are best spent on those with whom I have a Real Life One Degree of Separation relationship. But thanks anyway, Facebook.

FB Friends Sesame Street

Six Degrees of Sesame Street (I’d be friends with these folks – especially that fabulous Mr S.)

 

 

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Parent v Teenager – The Internet Wars

If you’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Unlimited Downloads, you won’t have heard of the Internet Wars. It’s shaping up to be the biggest battlefield between parents and their teenagers this world has ever seen. Well, maybe the biggest this country has ever seen. City? Well, okay, so it’s only my house but it’s definitely big.

Here in the Land of We’ll Screw You Over Every Chance We Get, unlimited Internet downloads are a luxury and an expensive one at that. Well, not so expensive if you’re prepared to sign up with an ISP with an unreliable performance record. So you can download all you want, provided you’re happy for it to take a week on snail speed.

Choosing an Internet plan in Complex Country takes a PhD in mathematical analysis. I’ve been told that in some countries, the decision to connect to the Internet comes down to “Will we have the Internet or not?” If only.

The decision here is “How much download do we need? How fast do we want it to go? What do we actually have access to? How reliable is the ISP? How much will it cost?” That last question is hard to quantify as all the other variables come in a dizzying array of options. It’s like comparing apples to toasters.

I’m told we are also paying through a Cyrano-sized nose for Internet access compared to other countries. I don’t know why. It’s a general trend across most technology in this country. Perhaps it’s just a carry over from the days when it took 3 months to deliver the post via ship. “All communication must henceforth be slow and expensive.”

So, why the Internet Wars? The battle comes into play when demand outstrips supply. Or, in other words, when the 12-year-old downloads half your monthly allowance in the first week. Cue Parental Rant.

If you manage to survive to the end of the billing cycle without getting shaped onto dial-up speed, there’s a chance the UN Peacekeepers could go home. But beware the last minute Charge of the Light Brigade as they charge through the last of your download in two hours, leaving you to update your blog later in the evening in a ‘hit Save Draft, go make a cup of tea’ cycle of pain.

Cue Parental Rant. Again.

Parental regulation rarely works. Let’s face it, most six-year-olds know more than we do about technology. They’re wizards at getting around restrictions. Throw a technologically-advanced, propeller-hat-wearing 17-year-old into the mix and you’ve lost the war before you even get out of boot camp.

But just as it seems time to pull out the white flag, free-market forces and self-regulation can come to the rescue. The day after one loud battle in which the words “unreasonable”, “selfish” and “if you want more download you can pay for it yourself” were at the fore, this appeared on the wall next to the computer:

Internet Rules

The war is probably not over but at least there’s a temporary ceasefire.

Postscript: I haven’t even touched on the battle to control what they’re actually accessing on the Internet. That’s like my own private Waterloo. With me as the short Corsican.

 

 

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Digital Native vs Fluent Speaker

DNvsFS

It is said that Generation Z (those born from 1995 to 2009) is the first digital native generation. Born into a technological world (at least in the developed world), they have never known a life without the internet or mobile phones. They utilise technology like it’s a part of their DNA and adapt to each new technological advance with breathtaking speed. They are the “switched on” generation.

I am not a digital native. I was born into a house with one television (black and white) and filled my leisure time reading books – the real sort, you know, made of paper. We played Monopoly with a board, on a table. However, we were introduced to technology whenever possible. My all-time favourite birthday present was the 10 in 1 electronics kit I received when I was ten. We were also the proud owners of a Commodore computer that ran games on cassette tapes. Sigh. I really miss that Klingon game.

I have become a technology fluent speaker. I understand the language but it has taken work and effort. Solving problems generally involves trial and error and Google is my best friend. I possess, admittedly, a natural aptitude for technology, a ‘knack’ if you will. Much like gardening, music or spelling, understanding technology is just another skill that either comes easily or it doesn’t. I wouldn’t have a clue when or how to prune a rosebush but I can instinctively work out what may be wrong with my computer. Which means it isn’t necessarily all generation based. I have young friends who know less than I do about technology. It’s not their thing, so it doesn’t come naturally.

However, digital natives do have the advantage. It is understood that the earlier you are introduced to technology, the easier you find it to use and adapt to as you age. So those born into homes of smart phones, tablets, laptops and the internet will accept them as a part of life and use them accordingly.

I am something of a permanent resident. I understand the language, live comfortably in my new home and can happily hang out with the locals. But I will never feel like a native. A part of me will always acknowledge the strangeness of my new country.

Digital natives tend to view we immigrants with a measure of either withering scorn or condescending pity. I live with three digital natives who all have a tendency to treat me like a dim-witted tourist. If I am trying to do something on the computer under their watchful eye, they speak to me in the technological equivalent of “No, you looky. It no go like that. You understand?” I can read the language but like reading any foreign text, I have to read it carefully to determine my next action. So if a dialogue box pops up while I am doing something, I read it, then I know what to do. The digital native can speed read. Faced with the same situation they know in a split second what it means and move on.

It makes me green with envy.

Generation Y has loved to view itself as the technological generation with its iTunes and white earbuds permanently affixed to ears, but the members of Generation Y are in for a rude shock when Generation Z hits the workforce in a few years. Always seen as the young IT experts at work, Gen Y has enjoyed a smug position in the office. Gen Z is on its way to wipe that smug look off Gen Y’s face. Sorry, Gen Y, I guess you won’t be CEO by the time you’re 40 after all.

(Anyone who has done their generational research will be able to determine, from the bitterness in my voice, that I am, of course, Generation X.)

Generation Z should watch out, though. I was sitting in a waiting room the other day watching a two year old play a game on an iPad. Gen Z only has a few years before Generation Alpha is going to wipe the technological floor with them.

 

 

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