The Story of A Digital Immigrant

“Just open it and explore” was the advice of our systems manager who allotted me my first laptop in 1994.
I wondered why people should carry it to work and I did not see any great benefit of using it. Then a software was bought that provided labour law cases. It was useful but not very friendly. In the meantime I grew dependent on Lotus Organiser. It was a gradual shift from pen and paper to the new world of everything electronic.
Use of search engines and particularly Google was the next step in learning. I realised that it was the best way to keep myself updated with the latest developments and knowledge.
Over a period I realised that the best way to keep myself updated on use of internet was to check what the young managers were doing. Reverse mentoring! Subbu [Dr Tangirala Subrahmaniam to the world] was my first Guru. I mastered the use of MS Powerpoint from him. MS Word was learnt quickly on my own. A beginner level proficiency in MS Excel was enough for my purpose. Once I started exploring various aspects of MS Word and Powerpoint, moving to gain higher level of proficiency was not difficult.
While I searched new books, visited book shops and bought some, I realised that the younger managers was exceptionally good at using ‘Search.’ I was using it but at a very elementary level. Anirudha Deshmukh showed me how to search research articles and use Advanced Search effectively. That opened up a treasure for me. Spending hours searching documents on a particular subject [much to the annoyance of my wife who wanted me to reduce my time online] became the routine.
Then came Kavi. In his first meeting with me he mentioned that he had given up writing poetry and taken to ‘blogging.’ That was a strange word to me. [I have always felt that though phonetically it is close to ‘blocking’, although what it does is otherwise.] I wondered why one should blog at all. I started one out of curiosity. It became a passion. [‘Obsession’ if you ask my wife]. I made friends with many bloggers, among them is Ugich Konitari, a lady blogger elder to me. She is not just a prolific blogger but so tech savvy that even young persons may benefit by taking a few suggestions from her. It felt nice to see that people of generation were already blogging. At the suggestion of Kavi and Shailesh Deshpande I opened an HR Blog. And with Ugich Konitari, a blog exclusively devoted to limericks!
Watching Kavi make a presentation to Thane HR Group on e-learning, I remembered my ‘journey.’ Kavi called my generation ‘Digital Immigrants.’ They are the individuals ‘who were born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in their life.’ [A cartoon shows mother explaining to her son that he was ‘born’ and not ‘downloaded!’] It feels so bad getting labelled as an ‘immigrant!’ Kavi has not coined the word [and that is why he has escaped facing the wrath of my generation!].
But there is some solace…Wikipedia clarifies ‘not all digital immigrants are technologically inept, as they fall into a number of categories; Avoiders, Reluctant Adopters and Eager Adopters. Avoiders may only have a minimal amount of technology involved in their lives and households (Ex. A landline phone and a television). Reluctant Adopters often see ways that technology might be needed in their lives, but they try to avoid it when possible (Ex. Letters instead of email, rotary telephones). Eager Adopters have enthusiasm or a talent for technology that makes them very similar to Digital Natives.’

That makes me feel good. I would like to call myself ‘Early Adopter,’ even at the cost of being labelled immodest. It gives me enthusiasm in my battle to master iPad 2 which was recently gifted to me by my children.
[Digital] Natives must adopt an inclusive approach towards the [Digital] Immigrants, what say you, Kavi?
[pic shows Kavi making a presentation on e-learning to Thane HR Group]