A 'digital generation': sustaining connections in the Information Age


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A 'digital generation': sustaining connections in the Information Age

  1. 1. A ‘Digital Generation’: sustaining connections in the Information Age Maz Hardey ESRC PhD Student University of York http://mazphd.googlepages.com/home
  2. 2. ‘To be on the wire is life; the rest is waiting’ (Goffman, E. 1967 The Interaction Ritual) - with reference to the telephone
  3. 3. Characterising the iGeneration
  4. 4. Generations Various labels for 18 - 25 year olds - ‘N-gen’, ‘Millennials’, ‘Wired Generation’ ‘Google Generation’, ‘Jpods’, 'ipod generation', 'MySpace Generation’, ‘Facebook Generation’... Characteristics include: •  Social life immersed in digital media •  Sociability focused on shared interactive environments •  Immediacy of connections and 'liveness' of updates •  Unified, mobile and always ‘connected’ to social information
  5. 5. Researching the ‘iGeneration’ •  Qualitative in-depth and open-ended interviews •  4 focus groups •  80 undergraduate students - in the UK and Australia •  Extracts from the data are not intended to be representative, but are used for illustrative purposes
  6. 6. Social Networking iGenration use an array of multi-media devices and user platforms e.g. Mobile phone, PCs, SNS, VoIP, IM, eMail, Blogs, Wiki’s… That provide: • Constant availability to social networks • The self-management of social activities and links • ‘Display’ of a connected and ‘online’ presence • Mixture of static images, video streams, text, links, digital shares, tagging… For example - Facebook
  7. 7. A platform for social practice User generated content acts as a ‘digital bridge’ between users as they include: •  A representation of the self - which is embedded in social networks •  A dynamic representation of social activity via RSS feeds etc •  Users ‘manage’ these representations e.g. by ‘permissioning’ (Pollard 2006), posting images, updating status…
  8. 8. Informed sociability Sociability is displayed and enacted across Web 2.0 media that may include - Facebook, Bebo, MySpace, Blogs, Digg, Del.icio.us, Personal webpage(s) •  Immersion in a mediated social life •  Always connected •  Speed of flows - speeded up •  Meaning and accounting for dissociation •  Knowing others ‘backwards’ •  Digital sociability
  9. 9. Immersion in a (social) mediated life
  10. 10. Well, I’m a 21 year old student, and to be honest, I couldn’t live without my mobile phone. In fact, I could tell you a lot about my hobbies, interests, favorite movies/songs, … but I guess you’ll have to find out by reading my blog… Besides Facebook, you could learn more about me through the following … * Flickr : my online photo library * LastFm : what i’m listening to * Twitter : what i’m doing * Del.icio.us : my bookmarks (Patrick)
  11. 11. Immersed characteristics •  Seek to occupy a range of social media. •  Appear to present multiple ‘presences’ as these are across different spaces. •  Mobile. •  About informed sociability rather than attachment/commitment to a single device or software.
  12. 12. Always connected
  13. 13. ‘I would never be without my phone, or checking Facebook... People tend to have ties everywhere now. I find that I can always be in touch just at the click of a button anytime’ (Jon)
  14. 14. Being always connected • Seemingly unregulated flows of information. •  Numerous methods/applications to stay in touch. • Formation of ‘digital presence’? – underlie all social connections.
  15. 15. Speeding-up the coming of information
  16. 16. ‘Things are changing so fast, like you go away for just one day and you are just so out of the loop, things change continually and it’s nice to be part of that. It’s hard if you miss a message, or status update on Facebook cos then you are behind, you don’t know what’s going on… you have to continue to make the effort if you want to be in touch.’ (Kim)
  17. 17. Interactions are go, go, go! •  Fast-paced. •  Managed ‘on the go’. •  Valued for ‘live’ content. •  Personal engagements/encounters are constantly ‘active’. •  Real time with real consequences.
  18. 18. Social meaning and accounting
  19. 19. …you can’t just go AWOL and not answer, no-one does that anymore. I have to announce it if I am going to uncontactable, especially to my boyfriend. (Tara)
  20. 20. Creating social meaning •  NOT being connected has ‘meaning’ e.g. each instance has to be explained. •  Set of communicative ‘regimes’ to stay/be in touch to avoid mis-information. •  Informed by social etiquette/rules e.g. A Guide to Proper Facebook Etiquette blog.
  21. 21. Knowing others ‘backwards’
  22. 22. ‘The way in is different now… you can check out their MySpace, or just Poke someone on Facebook… Its kind of stalkerish… YOU get to fill in the ‘gaps’ before you meet’ (Tom)
  23. 23. How to know someone • ‘Getting to know’ someone is focussed on continually updated information. • Assumed to be based on the ‘real’/authentic person. • ‘Social imagining’? ‘Digital’ sociability <-> co-present sociability
  24. 24. More than just a ‘digital’ sociability
  25. 25. We live in a really voyeuristic society. We're all total attention whores! We want to know who’s with who, who know’s who and how, what they are about and then what they are doing all the time! Its like an addiction! (Christina)
  26. 26. Presence •  Previously defined and static on/offline lives, or ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ world dualities are replaced. •  Engaged and connected social ‘present- ness’. •  The individual is constantly situated as part of a shared sense ‘knowing’ one another and exchanges of social information.
  27. 27. An emergent project •  SNS, Blogs etc - provide new spaces for what can be thought of as a ‘digital self project’ (cf. Shilling 2003 ‘body projects’). •  These projects call for a reflexive engagement with the self and social practices. •  Social practices are more or less manifest through displays of ‘networks’, links etc. •  Projects and practices always emergent. •  A new form of ‘social surveillance’.
  28. 28. A converging sociability •  Digital resources provide a personalised connectedness that transcends previous dualities and provide a constant ‘tether’ to networks (Ito et al 2005) •  Goffmans’ account of communication; the nuanced use of ‘props’ and ‘backstage’ work is congruent with digital interactions that are full of symbolic meanings and rituals. •  The technologies ‘dysappear’ (like the ‘healthy’ body) unless an individual is unable to connect - which has to be explained
  29. 29. Conclusion •  iGeneration are engaged in a new form of ‘connected sociability’ - user participation. •  Calls for the need to engage in a ‘mediated self project’ - which is always emergent and maintained across different social spaces. •  New ways of experiencing relationships and maintaining social connections; dynamic and managed ‘on the go’. •  Negotiated set of social practices to ‘stay in touch’ and maintain social networks.
  30. 30. Sooner Or Later… Andy Riley (2007) ‘Roasted’ The Observer 25th March