Friday, March 15, 2019

Digital Mutants - A Reality?

In my last two posts I have written about Digital Mutants, as a hypothesis based on observation, experience and pure guesswork. I am not a prophetic, and certainly not Marshall McLuhan. When I wrote about Digital Mutants, it was just an idea, so I decided to do some research. What I read is not surprising, and at least partly vindicates my stance. 



Here is a small review of the literature I have found:

A study done by researchers in Kings College, London found that there is a 39 per cent difference in the DNA of the highest and the lowest users of social media. They have attributed inherited genetic factors rather than environmental effects to these differences. You can read the full articles here:

Another interesting article detailed what neuroscientist, writer and broadcaster Baroness Susan Greenfield addresses in her recent book entitled “Is Social Media Changing our Brain? You can get the gist of in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HffWFd_6bJ0

Another study found that 48 percent of the individual differences in CIUS (Compulsive Internet Use Scale) score were influenced by genetic factors. Here's the link to the research article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25582809

I also found an article which says meditation can alter your DNA which is essentially a psychological process affecting your physiology. For research minded readers, there are several articles and research papers online. In conclusion, scientists and researchers will prove if I am right or wrong. 

For me, the world of Digital Mutants is a reality.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Digital Immigrants? No More!

Marc Prensky coined the terms Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives in 2001. He explains how Digital Immigrant teachers - those who were not born in the digital age have learnt to adopt the new technology, and learnt to teach Digital Natives - the younger generation who are born digital.



I always call myself a successful digital immigrants someone who have not been just a witness, but an active participant in this digital media evolution. I have imbibed the digital DNA into my own, and sort of become an instant 'digital mutant' several times over, simply to survive, and not perish in the digital tsunami. I teach digital media production and marketing to students doing their postgraduate courses in advertising, entertainment, and digital marketing at the MET Institute of Mass Media, and have to be constantly on my toes, upgrading myself, to remain relevant.

But that will change soon - sooner than we thought. India has one of the world's cheapest data connectivity, and with fast proliferating mobile networks, it has spread to even the remotest corners of the country. With the country also being one of the youngest in the world (about 45% of the population is between 18 and 35 years of age - and that's HUGE), there will be no place for the 'Digital Immigrants', they will be extinct anyway.

People ask me that since I write so much about digital media, is it good or bad? Well, if you get enslaved by it, its bad, whereas if you enslave it, its good. But more than that, it is time that we, digital immigrants accept it as a way of life, and not treat digital technology is the 'other'.I know many of my friends who used to be apprehensive, and even abhor digital technology; now they all have started using it. They have not choice but to do so.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A World of Digital Mutants?

For people in their 50's like me, the evolution of digital technology has been surprising, overwhelming, disrupting and overwhelming. I had not even seen a television set till I entered senior college, had seen the computer only in SciFi and James Bond movies let alone touch it. I never thought I would ever make a film, simply because my family did not have deep pockets. For us, even owning a telephone was a luxury, and no thought of a mobile phone ever crossed our minds.

I remember the time when I was first introduced to a computer in 1989; I was almost afraid to touch it. I remember how gingerly I used the mouse. I bought my first computer in 1992, which was a 386, with a 120 MB hard drive and a 4 MB RAM! And when there came along a 1.2 GB hard drive, we thought it could not get better than this.

For the last about 100,000 years, we, the Homo sapiens have evolved with nature. We have got used to the sun, the moon, the weather, and the sunrise and sunset diurnal cycle. We feel the seasons changing, and we have adapted accordingly. We did accept the industrial evolution, survived the wars, and so many catastrophes, but put digital technology on the timeline of evolution, and it forms just a very small fraction.



The life expectancy of humans is about 75 to 80 years. Some of us, who were fortunate to have been exposed to this technology adapted to these changes and adopted the new technology, whereas some simply feel lost in its labyrinth. Rather than evolving with the digital technology, which is necessarily a slow, adaptive process, we have to simply accept it. So we pounce upon the latest gadgets, imbibe them into our system, use them, and get ready for the next fast change. Its almost like we include a piece of the digital DNA into our own, transforming, mutating into a new being.

How else do we explain the dependence on technology, the socio-economic problems that are so prevalent today? But more on that later....

There is no time to EVOLVE, because if you don't mutate, you do not survive.

Quite simply, we are (turning into) a world of Digital Mutants.