I happened to be reading an article this morning (http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/may10/Blowers.shtml) and it spoke of the differences between what is defined as a Digital Native and in comparison what I get framed as the "other generation" that did something completely different than this new age Digital Native.
It talks about how different 28+ year olds lives were, where their first digital experience was to setup an e-mail address and the native exploration of a digital identity for young adults and kids today is the formation of avatars, posts, digital media etc.
As a disclaimer, let me just say that the social network space that is talked about so heavily these days, may certainly be equated to the invention of the atomic bomb or the moon landing, albeit I consider those a lot more scientifically progressive than this, but I have my doubts on what place it holds for us in the future. I read an article that the Library of Congress is charting a project that will archive all the tweets in Twitter (http://m.news.com/2166-12_3-20002517-1.html) in perpetuity and the pro's for doing so of course is discussed as being a look back into our social culture and norms 10-50 years from now.
I guess there are more educated and well versed people than I, but are the Twitter tweets of today really representative of our social culture today? As a human race that saw the brilliance of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, and the Da Vinci's, and the Picasso's of modern time, we have now moved to archiving tweets that are representative of what/who we are today. I'm not so sure we have taken a step ahead - but of course, this will call for a lot of discourse on the power of what is tweeted these days and the following some tweeters have.
I also suspect that a better project to undertake, noting the first article of the Digital Native is to conduct an experiment on the shift of the developmental life cycle of child from birth to grave. We came from an era where children and youth were exposed to simplistic & rudimentary forms of entertainment, coupled with a slow progression of a reveal into the human condition. This is not the case today - they are being bombarded with information, engaging all aspects of their psychological & physiological development. I wonder what the apex of a shift like this holds for us.
This takes us back full circle once again to the social network aspect of our digital space, which has prompted for terms such as "knowledge in the crowd", "crowd sourcing", etc., but it is not the knowledge that I remain concerned with, it is the contextualization & categorization of it that is troublesome.
Today, anyone is an author and a subject matter expert and both good and bad contributors see detractors and supporters, putting the reader in the driver seat to decide what their take on the matter is. As adults, who have been taught about the basics of the social experience, educated on acceptable behaviors, lectured on academic nuances and provided with experiential knowledge from their close circle of influencers during their youth, the child of today gets to make those decisions on his/her own as the Digital Native.
Although there are debates on both sides of this, and there are tools, mechanisms, etc. that one can employ, I would just humbly suggest that the Digital Native is influencing the generational norm of today, that is going to separate it from the previous generation exponentially, as compared to a progressive gap we have experienced before. I would suspect there are consequences of this yet to be seen in the coming decade that could prove noteworthy for the development & possible transformation of the human being.