Marc Prensky coined the term digital native to describe someone born during, or after, the widespread introduction of digital technologies. Digital natives, so the theory goes, have a greater understanding of the digital world through having interacted with digital technology from an early age. If you were born before this time you are described as a digital immigrant. In 2001 when Prensky developed these two terms I felt a deep sense of alienation. For I was neither a digital native nor a digital immigrant, I had a third as yet undescribed status. I was a digital displaced person- someone who is fleeing technology.
Lately I’ve become aware that my digital immigration status may have changed to yet another category not recorded by Prensky. I may now be a digital asylum seeker; for I have crossed a frontier and now happily reside amongst some digital technologies. Soon I hope to have my status as a digital refugee confirmed.
If my exodus from the technological world was driven by fear of persecution at the hands of geeks and boffins, my re-entry has been due to the hospitality afforded by the ‘App Store’. Thanks to apps (small pieces of useful software) I have developed a love affair with my phone; a love affair that rivals that of Samsung and Delilah. Apps are not merely time wasting follies, they can do all sorts of useful and important tasks. My favourites are the flashlight for keeping me safe at night; a public transport app that allows me to efficiently plan trips using buses and thereby reduce my environmental footprint; and an anagram solver so I can cheat at scrabble.
While searching for apps on my smart phone recently I found four that were worth sharing with you. Don’t take me literally, you certainly wouldn’t want to be caught with any of these on your phone. Firstly there’s the app ‘Boyfriend Tracker’, whose functions include sending you updates on your partner’s location and forwarding duplicates of their text messages. Quite apart from any privacy issues there are two practical problems with this app. One is you have to get a duplicitous persons phone long enough to install this software. However even before this you have to surmount the even greater problem of finding a boyfriend. Like a certain depilatory practice ‘Boyfriend Tracker’ comes from Brazil; the relevance of this point is that both guarantee the user more pain and revelation than is advisable.
If your boyfriend can be trusted, or doesn’t exist, then ‘Boyfriend Tracker’ is not for you, but there are plenty of other useful apps you could try. One offering food for thought was ‘Bowel Mover Pro’ for iPhone, an app that allows you to record your toilet habits in great detail without the need for screeds of paper.
For android users there is the ‘Idiot scanner’ app. This gives insight as to whether someone is an idiot or not based on their finger print. This app actually works – anyone who submits to this test must be an idiot.
Having mastered my phone I might be ready for the next step, which may be Google’s ‘Smart Glasses’. These are spectacle-like devices that put a little screen right in front of your eyes as you walk around. The screen will show you “an augmented reality overlay as you view the world around you”. Unfortunately my enduring response to this product from Google is that it deserves to be logged with ‘Bowel Mover Pro’. I think I’ll stick with my Cecily glasses which have an “augmented whimsical overlay as you view the world around you”.
I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m destined to live in the real world and only visit the digital one as and when I like. Mark Prensky might call me a digital excursionist. This might not suit the original treatise, but for me it offers the best of both worlds.