Friday, May 27, 2011

Digital Darwinism and My Mother

I have a wonderful mother. She is 85 years young and she has been a widow for over twenty years. Recently, I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with her talking about things, and she surprised me with two startling questions:
What is "Facebook"? and "What does it mean to Twit-ter?"
Now, that may not sound so startling or amazing to some people, but for my mom to ask these questions was quite enlightening. My mom is the kind of person that would only use an automatic dishwasher when people were sick in the house, and she would never entertain the use of a microwave for fear of atomic radiation. So, for her to ask me what these two social media devices were was truly interesting. Her friends at the senior citizen center are all abuzz on using Facebook to stay in touch or connected to their grandchildren and other relatives. After showing my mom the wonders of Facebook and allowing her to see how she could stay in touch through social media with her family she became excited and wanted to have the capability to do the same.
In many ways, this is the perfect example of what has been recently defined as "digital Darwinism". That is when technology evolves faster than the ability of people to stay up with it. The fact that smart phones and tablets are proliferating thoughout the world, and most people still are only working with a desktop computer, is an example of this. There is a commercial for Best Buy that offers to buy back a former version of technology when the newer version comes out, so that people start realizing savings from their investment, if that is possible.
This past budget season we were asked many times by people about iPads being used by our administrators, and was this a good use of resources. I can only comment that upgrading the technology for our employees enhances the work they do and makes the school community more paperless and less dependent on many other traditional forms of resources. Next year, we are working on plans for students in the high school to begin bringing in their personal devices for use in taking notes, working on projects and classroom assignments. Eventually, we hope to stop purchasing the heavy and expensive textbooks in favor of electronic texts and other Internet-based media.
And who knows what the next level of media will be ?
For now, I plan on getting my Mom connected to the World Wide Web, and welcome her to the Global Internet!!