1500-1700 words


New Media Essay Criteria
one of the sources, I believe you need to provide 3 other ones and then the prompt is attached also.Your New Media Essay (NME) is the place where you describe how you would solve a new media problem or how you would develop an effective new media tool or artifact. Utilize course resources you would use to craft your dream project in the face of continuity and change.
You will compose a New Media Essay that describes you solution/tool focus, the reason for its need, the strategies you would use as you develop that solution or “tool,” the technical support you would need to develop that solution or tool, and the process that would go creating or developing that solution. You must cite and integrate at least four course sources within your NME.
Your NME should be designed with focused attention to an honest and authentic reflection on a new media solution or tool you wish to develop. Your NME must turn a critical eye to the design choices you would make to develop the solution or tool. The NME should be about approximately 1,500-1,700 words in length and around four pages. You must use APA style accurately and consistently in your NME including in your works cited/reference page.
The NME must be written in essay format, and it may be helpful to consider the following guiding questions as you are crafting and formatting your NME:
How well do you believe your NME creatively and thoughtfully address your new media problem that requires a solution?
Do you establish a purpose or goal for your solution or tool?
How well does the NME engage the relevant sources we read, discussed, engaged, and/or viewed together since the first unit of the semester? Are at least four course sources cited and integrated into your own writing and thinking?
How well does the NME contextualize relevant information about the New Media?
How reflective is the NME in terms of ‘defining new media”? Is there a clear and working definition of ‘new media’ established? Is the definition well developed through setting up conflicting perspectives to answer the question of how best to define ‘new media’?
How reflective is the NME in terms of overall solution design choices? Is there a discussion of the process and the strategies?
Does the NME meet the length requirements, have an imaginative or creative title, and use MLA or APA style consistently? How well is the Reference page constructed?
Does the writing demonstrate precise and engaging word choice, an appropriate tone, logical arrangement, and no distracting grammatical and/or mechanical errors?
Does the NME implement peer feedback that was helpful or generative in shaping your essay?
What have you learned about the subject of new media that you did not know when you started this NME?
How have you used Crawford and Robinson to showcase the injuries, harms, or misconceptions that can arise from thinking in terms of generations’ when it comes to conceptualizing new media, patterns of technology use, or articulating concerns about the susceptibility of some groups to the power or influence of new media technologies?34
Beyond Generations and New Media
Kate Crawford and Penelope Robinson
Historical generations are not born; they are made. They are a device by which
people conceptualize society and seek to transform it.
(Wohl, The Generation of 1914, 1979: 5)
New media technologies – whether the microphone, radio, television, or the
Internet – can become powerfully associated with a generation. Their initial magic,
the heady feeling of new capacities and affordances, can create a marker for generational memory. Black-and-white televisions beaming out the moon landing, Orson
Welles terrifying radio listeners with tales of alien invasion, or images of mass
protest in Egypt ricocheting through Facebook and Twitter: the platform becomes
an inextricable part of how an event is remembered and mythologized as a defining
moment for a generation. But new media technologies can also emerge as part of a
generationalizing strategy, where they are used to mark out a particular age group
as different or problematic. This chapter will look at the recursive dynamics that
surround new media technologies and generations: from the media histories of
generational categories through to the emergence of the ‘‘digital natives’’ as part of a
long line of ‘‘us and them’’ identity polarization around emerging media forms. We
will then consider what other factors, aside from age, might give us a more nuanced
understanding of new media use.
Old and New Media Generations
For the past hundred years, young people have been seen as particularly susceptible
to the powers of media technologies. They have been targeted as a population
A Companion to New Media Dynamics, First Edition. Edited by John Hartley, Jean Burgess, and Axel Bruns.
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Published 2013 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Beyond Generations and New Media
at risk of becoming addicted, antisocial, and dysfunctional. As one researcher
The popularity of this new pastime among children has increased rapidly. This new
invader of the privacy of the home has brought many a disturbing influence in its wake.
Parents have become aware of a puzzling change in the behavior of their children. They
are bewildered by a host of new problems; and find themselves unprepared, frightened,
resentful, helpless. (Eisenberg 1936: 17–18)
The particular ‘‘new pastime’’ in question was listening to the radio: one of many
technologies that became a terrain where anxieties about generations of young
people were deployed. As communications scholars Ellen Wartella and Byron
Reeves observe in a review of studies from 1900 to 1960 on the effects of media
on children, the same arguments about media technologies keep recurring and
‘‘although the expression of concern highlights novel attributes of each medium,
the bases of objections and promises have been similar’’ (1985: 120). Like a media
déja vù, the technologies may change but the typecasting remains.
Part of the problem with generational claims about media use is with the very idea
of generations. As an organizing category for human behavior, it fails to capture
difference and replaces it with false coherence. While demographic events – such as
the baby boom or the Black Plague – may have distinct effects in terms of population,
they do not reflect the vast diversity contained within an age group. The sociologist
Karl Mannheim identified the concept of ‘‘generation’’ in 1928, and argued that the
prevailing social and political discourses that individuals encounter in their youth
have an impact on their perceptions of the world. Major events, if experienced
at the same stage of the life-course, would have the effect of congealing a group
of people into what he called a ‘‘generation as actuality’’ (1952: 304), whereby a
group of people develop a generational consciousness – a sense that they collectively
participate in effecting social change.
In developing the concept of ‘‘generation,’’ Mannheim was seeking to move
beyond the familial notions of generation toward an understanding of the role
of the wider sociohistorical context (Pilcher 1994: 484–485). But the concept of
generational cohorts is also very limited: it cannot account for stark divisions
within an age group, nor for commonalities across age groups. The ethnic, cultural,
and class differences even within a single nation are enough to shatter the idea
of identity shared across a generation, let alone between nations. Nonetheless,
generational identity became the basis for nebulous and inaccurate labels, where age
groups were rounded into categories – such as ‘‘baby boomer,’’ ‘‘Generation X,’’
and ‘‘millennials’’ – that now routinely appear in popular debates about technology
and social change (White and Wyn 2008: 10).
Networked technologies have triggered even broader attempts at categorization. June Edmunds and Bryan Turner have drawn on Mannheim’s concept of
generational consciousness to argue that communication technologies have allowed
‘‘global generations’’ to emerge: ‘‘Whereas print media and the radio shaped
Kate Crawford and Penelope Robinson
international and transnational generations, electronic technology has led to the
globalization of trauma because new media mean that events can be experienced
simultaneously, transcending time and space’’ (2005: 573). The concept of ‘‘global
generation’’ effectively bleaches out all the variance and heterogeneity between an
Internet user in Hyderabad and one in Beijing or London. There is, however, no such
thing as a digital generation, as media scholar Siva Vaidhyanathan (2008) argues:
Invoking ‘‘generations’’ demands an exclusive focus on people of wealth and means,
because they get to express their preferences (for music, clothes, technology, etc.) in
ways that are easy to count. It tends to exclude immigrants and non-English-speaking
Americans, not to mention those who live beyond the borders of the United States.
And it excludes anyone on the margins of mainstream consumer or cultural behavior.
As we will see, the term ‘‘digital native’’ substantively glosses over the uneven and
gradual engagement with network technologies across age groups, cultures, and
Inventing Digital Natives
Marc Prensky is considered to have coined the term ‘‘digital native’’ when he
proposed that ‘‘students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of
computers, video games and the Internet’’ (2001: 2). He makes a distinction between
digital natives and ‘‘digital immigrants’’ who, because they have not grown up with
the Internet, retain their ‘‘accent.’’ Prensky applies his native/immigrant distinction
to students and teachers in contemporary classrooms, suggesting that young people
have different styles of learning that older ‘‘digital immigrant’’ teachers don’t
understand (2001: 4).
The term quickly gained popular currency, and was used to imply that anyone
born after 1980 will be better at using technology and new media. Immersion in
information and communication technology from an early age, the argument goes,
ascribes young people with certain characteristics that set them apart from older
generations (Bennett et al. 2008: 776). Prensky writes:
Kids born into any new culture learn the new language easily, and forcefully resist using
the old. Smart adult immigrants accept that they don’t know about their new world
and take advantage of their kids to help them learn and integrate. Not-so-smart (or
not-so-flexible) immigrants spend most of their time grousing about how good things
were in the ‘‘old country.’’ (2001: 4)
The ‘‘digital natives’’ category cements the idea that young people should be
considered as a separate category, asserting that, because they have grown up with
the Internet, they have an inbuilt capacity for engaging with and understanding
digital communication. Older people are relegated to the order of those who must
Beyond Generations and New Media
struggle to understand. Many have convincingly argued that this is conceptually
and empirically dubious. Critics of the digital native discourse have pointed out
that it erects an artificial gap between younger and older users of technology (Tufts
2010); that focusing on age obscures other factors contributing to a digital divide,
such as access and opportunity (Brown and Czerniewicz 2010); that claims about
digital natives amount to a kind of moral panic (Bennett et al. 2008); and that such
claims marginalize older people who are proficient in their use of communication
This determinist view that young people are automatically ‘‘fluent in the digital
language of computers, video games and the Internet’’ (Prensky 2005: 8) runs
counter to considerable international evidence that shows inconsistency in digital
literacy, even within wealthy Western nations such as the USA and Australia. What
several researchers have found is that, while the majority of young people have access
to mobile phones and computers, the frequency and form of their engagement vary
depending on factors including socioeconomic and cultural background, gender,
and family dynamics (Livingstone and Bober 2004; Lenhart et al. 2005; Kennedy
et al. 2006). In one of the most persuasive assessments of the claims about digital
natives, Bennett et al. observe:
The picture beginning to emerge from research on young people’s relationships with
technology is much more complex than the digital native characterisation suggests.
While technology is embedded in their lives, young people’s use and skills are not
uniform. There is no evidence of widespread and universal disaffection, or of a distinctly
different learning style the like of which has never been seen before. (2008: 783)
Arguments based on a distinction between young and old framed by generalizations
and stereotypes of technology use are problematic already, but, when they include
the language of ‘‘natives’’ and ‘‘immigrants,’’ there is even more cause for concern.
The young people talked about in these narratives are depicted as inherently foreign,
inexplicable, and exotic.
For example, John Palfrey and Urs Gasser, authors of Born Digital, deploy the
digital native concept even while acknowledging that there are vast differences in
access to technology across the world and that the ‘‘majority of young people born
in the world today are not growing up as Digital Natives’’ (2008: 14). After detailing
some of the apparently puzzling behaviors of young people, such as a daughter who
is always busy chatting online and a high-school student ‘‘putting up scary, violent
messages on his Web page,’’ they write: ‘‘There is one thing you know for sure:
These kids are different. They study, work, write, and interact with each other in
ways that are very different from the ways than you did growing up’’ (2008: 2).
With all the resonance of colonial descriptions of the natives and their strange
customs, young people are classed as alien. In their critique of the concept,
Cheryl Brown and Laura Czerniewicz explain that ‘‘in our South African context
(and presumably previously colonized countries), ‘native’ is synonymous with
Kate Crawford and Penelope Robinson
colonialism, apartheid, and domination and does not connote images of superiority
and the future’’ (2010: 359). This double meaning of native – as ‘‘primitive’’ and as
belonging to one’s character since birth – and Prensky’s associations of immigration
with inadequacy bring along some considerably uncomfortable baggage.
Finally, the rhetoric of digital natives assumes a kind of historical break: a moment
in time when a wholly new form of social and technological identity emerged. In
some ways, this is akin to any kind of generationalizing tactic – where each group
emerges as something novel and distinct from the last. But the language around
digital natives is even more hyberbolic:
Today’s students have not just changed incrementally from those of the past . . . . A
really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a ‘‘singularity’’ – an
event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back.
(Prensky 2001: 1)
Not only is there little empirical evidence for such a radical schism but also the
language of ‘‘singularity’’ invokes the concept used by futurists such as Ray Kurzweil
(2005) that there will be a moment of ‘‘superintelligence’’: when artificial and
human intelligence expands in currently inconceivable ways. Thus, digital natives
are located somewhere between the linguistic poles of high futurism and colonialism,
something irretrievably of both the future and the past, without any continuity or
association with the present. Dislocated from other age groups and forms of identity,
the digital native appears more like a chimera: an imaginary creature devised to tell
particular kinds of stories about social change.
From Generations to Networks of Association
If the idea of a generation has little concrete meaning, instead operating as a vague
shorthand, why has it become so pervasive as a form of human categorization? In
Mannheim’s terms, generations are formed by a set of experiences shared by people
in a similar cultural milieu at the same time. But, in a globalized world, cultural
milieu are no longer strictly limited by geography or age, and are highly fractured
and dispersed internationally. Significant events such as wars, recessions, mass
protests, and so on may be shared by many or by a smaller subset within particular
cultural, social, and economic niches. Rather than creating easily identifiable
generations, digital media technologies create various networks of association and
knowledge. These networks have varying levels of cohesion, power, and visibility.
Some may be invisible, such as the network of friends listed in a ‘‘most called’’
list on a mobile phone. Others – brought together by politics, music, institutional
or class association, a natural disaster, or a war – leave visible traces across social
media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Networks of association can be both
voluntary and involuntary, and they have their own distinct patterns of technological
Beyond Generations and New Media
Australian researchers North, Snyder, and Bulfin suggest that social context and
class are more influential determinants of young people’s use of technology than
age group:
Young people’s social background influences their relative exposure to ICT in their
homes, their friends’ homes and their leisure activities . . . . Young people make technologies their own – they use them according to what has a ‘‘sense of place,’’ what fits
their habitus. (2008: 897–899)
There is a more complex set of associations contributing to this sense of place, and
multiple experiences of membership within a social milieu that go well beyond age.
In a qualitative study of college students in the USA, McMillan and Morrison (2006)
found that, while participants perceived there to be a difference between their use
of the Internet and that of their parents and grandparents, more significant was that
‘‘within their age cohort vast differences and skill levels are evident . . . even within
groups of siblings, media use differs’’ (2006: 89).
A study by communications researchers Eszter Hargittai and Amanda Hinnant
(2008) in the USA similarly suggests gender, online experience, and education
are significant influences on technological confidence. In their sample of 18–26year-old American adults, women are less likely to claim knowledge about online
terminology and features, and ‘‘those who use the Web infrequently also report lower
levels of know-how about it’’ (2008: 617). They also found that, while self-reported
online skill was not determined by educational background, it did influence the
likelihood that people visited ‘‘capital-enhancing’’ sites: spaces that may increase
human and financial capital (2008: 617). This study indicates that digital inequity
exists even within populations that are already engaged in online environments
and that the factors determining literacy are complex. Simply being connected is
not enough.
Further, work done by social media researcher danah boyd has pointed to the
influence of race and class on the use of social networking sites. ‘‘What distinguishes
adoption of MySpace and Facebook among American teens is not cleanly about
race or class, although both are implicated in the story at every level,’’ she argues.
‘‘The division can be seen through the lens of taste and aesthetics, two value-laden
elements that are deeply entwined with race and class’’ (boyd 2011: 204). When
Facebook was first developed, it became a rite of passage for teenagers who saw
it as ‘‘a marker of status and maturity’’: noticeable patterns emerged, with more
white and Asian teens moving to Facebook while black and Latino teens remained
on MySpace. Age was less powerful for determining online behavior than ethnicity,
class, and cultural associations.
Studying networks of association, and the pervasive roles of race, class, and gender,
can offer a more subtle account of new media and identity than generational
Kate Crawford and Penelope Robinson
categories. However, these complexities are not always welcome. As Vaidhyanathan
(2008) writes, ‘‘We love thinking in generations because they keep us from examining
uncomfortable ethnic, gender, and class distinctions too closely. Generations seem to
explain everything.’’ Generational terms have emerged as a shortcut for summarizing
differences in technology use, but they do so at considerable cost. As an imprecise
taxonomic tool, generational classifications have been used to bolster debates and
policies that incorrectly seek to define age groups as monolithic and marginalize
both the young and the old.
Researchers continue to provide evidence that digital participation is affected by
multiple complex factors, yet problematic terms such as ‘‘digital native’’ still persist.
Partly this is driven by a desire for simplicity, a simple line that can be drawn through
the intricacies of social change. Partly it is due to the power that such a simple frame
can give: it has been used within arguments to reshape the kinds of media used
in classrooms, to influence pedagogical method, to affirm the feelings of educators
and parents who feel left behind or alienated (Siemens 2007; Bennett et al. 2008).
It seems unavoidable that, over a long historical trajectory, the term – or terms
like it – will recur, operationalized to mark out particular groups from others and
problematize (or glorify) their patterns of technology use. But using blunt tools such
as the ‘‘digital native’’ terminology cannot bring us closer to developing a granular,
differentiated understanding of how different groups are using online technologies.
Instead, we need to take a fuller account of the rich miscellany of associations that
more powerfully shape the relationships between humans and networks.
Bennett, S., Maton, K., and Kervin, L. (2008) ‘‘The ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: A Critical Review
of the Evidence.’’ British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775–786.
boyd, d. (2011) ‘‘White Flight in Networked Publics? How Race and Class Shaped American
Teen Engagement with Myspace and Facebook’’ in L. Nakamura and P. Chow-White,
eds., Race After the Internet. New York: Routledge, pp. 203–223.
Brown, C. and Czerniewicz, L. (2010) ‘‘Debunking the ‘Digital Native’: Beyond Digital
Apartheid, Towards Digital Democracy.’’ Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(5),
Edmunds, J. and Turner, B.S. (2005) ‘‘Global Generations: Social Change in the Twentieth
Century.’’ British Journal of Sociology, 56(4), 559–577.
Eisenberg, A.L. (1936) Children and Radio Programs. New York: Columbia University Press.
Hargittai, E. and Hinnant, A. (2008) ‘‘Digital Inequality: Differences in Young Adults’ Use
of the Internet.’’ Communication Research, 35(5), 602–621.
Kennedy, G., Krause, K., Judd, T., et al. (2006) First Year Students’ Experiences with Technology:
Are They Really Digital Natives? Melbourne: University of Melbourne.
Kurzweil, R. (2005) The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. New York:
Viking Press.
Lenhart, A., Madden, M., and Hitlin, P. (2005) Teens and Technology: Youth are Leading the
Transition to a Fully Wired and Mobile Nation. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American
Life Project.
Beyond Generations and New Media
Livingstone, S. and Bober, M. (2004) ‘‘Taking Up Online Opportunities? Children’s Use
of the Internet for Education, Communication and Participation.’’ E-Learning, 1(3),
Mannheim, K. (1952 [1923]) ‘‘The Problem of Generations,’’ trans. P. Kecskemeti, in P.
Kecskemeti, ed., Essays on the Sociology of Knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul,
pp. 276–322.
McMillan, S.J. and Morrison, M. (2006) ‘‘Coming of Age with the Internet: A Qualitative
Exploration of How the Internet has Become an Integral Part of Young People’s Lives.’’
New Media & Society, 8(1), 73–95.
North, S., Snyder, I., and Bulfin, S. (2008) ‘‘Digital Tastes: Social Class and Young People’s
Technology Use.’’ Information, Communication and Society, 11(7), 895–911.
Palfrey, J. and Gasser, U. (2008) Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital
Natives. New York: Basic Books.
Pilcher, J. (1994) ‘‘Mannheim’s Sociology of Generations: An Undervalued Legacy.’’ British
Journal of Sociology, 45(3), 481–495.
Prensky, M. (2001) ‘‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1.’’ On the Horizon: The
Strategic Planning Resource for Education Professionals, 9(5), 1–6.
Prensky, M. (2005) ‘‘Listen to the Natives.’’ Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.
Siemens, G. (2007) ‘‘Digital Natives and Immigrants: A Concept Beyond Its Best Before
Date.’’ Connectivism (April 16). www.connectivism.ca/?p=97.
Tufts, D.R. (2010) Digital Adults: Beyond the Myth of the Digital Native Generation Gap.
Doctoral dissertation, Fielding Graduate University.
Vaidhyanathan, S. (2008) ‘‘Generational Myth.’’ Chronicle of Higher Education (September
19). http://chronicle.com/article/Generational-Myth/32491.
Wartella, E. and Reeves, B. (1985) ‘‘Historical Trends in Research on Children and the
Media: 1900–1960.’’ Journal of Communication, 35(2), 118–133.
Wohl, R. (1979) The Generation of 1914. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
White, R. and Wyn, J. (2008) Youth and Society: Exploring the Social Dynamics of Youth
Experience, 2nd edn. Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Further Reading
Bennett, S. and Maton, K. (2010) ‘‘Beyond the ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: Towards a More
Nuanced Understanding of Students’ Technology Experiences.’’ Journal of Computer
Assisted Learning, 26(5), 321–331.
Crawford, K. (2006) Adult Themes: Rewriting the Rules of Adulthood. Sydney: Pan Macmillan.
Helsper, E.J. and Eynon, R. (2010) ‘‘Digital Natives: Where is the Evidence?’’ British
Educational Research Journal,36(3), 503–520.
Turner, B.S. (1997) ‘‘Ageing and Generational Conflict: A Reply to Sarah Irwin.’’ British
Journal of Sociology, 49(2), 299–304.

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