The New Journalism

Helen CoonanIn a recent speech delivered by Senator Helen Coonan, I was impressed by some of what she said about the changing nature of the world. Coonan is Australia’s Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (yeah, we like to give ’em broad portfolios down in Australia)

Her speech was entitled “An Integration Plan for Digital Migrants”, and although there didn’t seem to to be a lot of action points for a “plan” as such, I found it an interesting speech. Of course, a lot of her talk will sound quite familiar to many of us who live in the educational blogosphere, but it’s good (and unfortunately somewhat unusual) to hear insights like these coming from the political world.

Among other things, Coonan said…

Digital immigrants are, on the whole, outpaced by the hoards of digital natives who do not see technology as technology but as an appendage. It’s not technology to the teens – it’s routine, it’s run-of-the-mill, it’s life.

They don’t marvel about how their mobile or their computer has made their life easier or more convenient – they can barely remember a time when these essentials did not exist.

The Pew Internet Project in the US found that the average 21 year old has, in all probability, spent 5000 hours playing video games, exchanged around 250,000 e-mails, instant messages, and phone text messages, and has spent 10,000 hours on a mobile phone and 3500 hours online.

These same 21 year olds are more likely to access their news and opinion online, do research online and shop online. They date online and can even pray online. For advertisers they are fast becoming the ‘lost generation’.

They are fickle consumers, are difficult to tie to one place and they are increasingly sceptical of attempts to market to them through their online communities or other new wave mediums.

These are surprisingly insightful words from a politician and ones that make me very glad to think that maybe, just maybe, someone at government level actually gets it. Good onya Helen.

Here is the whole speech if you’d like to check it out.