Google Generation a Myth?

Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future, released earlier this year, suggests that the Google Generation is a myth.

In particular, it found that academics and researchers are “power-browsing” or skimming material, and using “horizontal” (shallow) research. Most spent only a few minutes looking at academic journal articles and few returned to them. “It almost seems that they go online to avoid reading in the traditional sense,” said the report authors.

And this behaviour was not restricted to ‘screenagers’.

“From undergraduates to professors, people exhibit a strong tendency towards shallow, horizontal, flicking behaviour in digital libraries. Factors specific to the individual, personality and background are much more significant than generation.”

This is an interesting take on the ‘digital native’ concept, and suggests that today’s youth are not the only generation with a national facility for navigating digital information.

As digital media researcher Margaret Weigel says: “being a media studies person and a lover of history, you learn that over time, modalities change, but human capacities rarely do.”

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