My generation is definitely the iGeneration...not to be confused with the "Me Generation." Just as the article linked below suggests, we tend to be totally and completely addicted to being "plugged in" all the time. The author below's opinion is that this is a very bad thing and that because of it we as individuals have lost our self-reliance. He makes a few good points, but I think what he discounts is that while we may, in some ways, appear less self-reliant, we are also much more adept at finding key information quickly, usually by disseminating through enourmous amounts of data. Moreover, I think that we as a generation are more aware of how media is used to trick and fool us (the author seems to imply that books are the epitomy of all knowledge that is true, perhaps because the author himself is a novelist).
Further, just because we as a generation are "jacked into the Matrix" sometimes 24/7, isn't necessarily a bad thing. We are much more able to stay at the bleeding edge of information and technology breakthroughs because its what we've always known; the older generation tends to get familiar with one technology and then resist all future innovation (Why else do you think Adobe still sells Director?) As much as I am a child of the Internet, I am also a child of
Murphey's Moore's Law (edit: I may be a child of Murphey's Law, too, but that's for another post); it is not a huge deal for me to readapt and evolve my techniques every 12-18 months when the entire industry enters a new generation.
My children may have had their umbilical cord severed at birth but they immediately attached themselves to a nurturing cable that suckles them, feeds them, entertains, distracts and informs them. Like a million other young men and women of their age, they are physically attached to an information tube: they text each other instead of speaking, tap out messages on their PDAs or mobiles even if the person is right beside them, and seek answers from a screen rather than open a book.
Australian IT - Net dependence sapping our life skills (Alan Gold, JANUARY 29, 2007)
While the older generation may have its so called "self reliance," I have a global community to call upon. Really, what is more efficient; sharing knowledge amongst the masses, or each individual being a self-standing tome of knowledge (who still isn't able to contain all of this knowledge within himself and requires books and other media to retain it). The author goes on to suggest that our generation may be the heralding of a Darwinian devolution because we no longer read books but instead stay plugged into a vast network of knowledge instead. This is indeed an interesting postulation to suggest that somehow the Internet is a vastly different way, and more primitive, way of containing our tomes of knowledge. It is as though the author believes that with the age of books, we humans somehow contained the knowledge within the books inside ourselves, but with the Internet this is different. I once read a wonderful book called Natural Born Cyborgs which clarifies a lot of the falacy in this belief. Really, without our reliance upon some form of technology (be that pencil and paper or the Internet) we would still be significantly more primitive ("devolved" to use the article author's terminology); yet we tend to easily overlook the fact that the pencil and writing are perhaps the most significant technological invention of all time, simply because without them all knowledge would still have to be passed on orally.
Has the Internet and mobile technologies allowed this generation to become "knowledgable" in a new way? Yes. Is this way any different than the ages of the past where books and hard copy reference manuals were king? Not so much as this article author believes, in my opinion at least.