Thursday, November 27, 2008

Your Observations of Digital Natives

We all know the generalizations about Digital Natives: they read more lines of text messages than they do lines from books, they spend more time on Facebook than with their face in a book, they need a constant stream of music to be productive, etc. But, what are your actual observations? I would love to hear from those of you who have a lot of time to observe digital natives.

These are my observations: Digital Natives are not really that impressed with digital art like we were when Photoshop hit the streets. It's fun to make, but they are more in awe with art a mano. After all, they have always had a world of Photoshop art, it's almost 20 years old now. Art by hand seems more of a challenge to them, and highly individual, to many of them, frightenly foreign. Following the lead of the professional graphics world, I create projects for my computer graphics II students that incorporate their drawings. The design world now demands the surprise and individuality of handwork. We can't cheat our students of that experience. My computer graphics students who have taken one or more 2D class have no problem with incorporating one of the scanned drawings into a final digital design, but those that haven't freeze up.

Videos as non-art class projects are so common now that some of my students had 3 videos due in one week for 3 different subjects.

Have you noticed all the handlettering in posters and ads and even commercials that target those under 30? Take a look at these awsome hand-lettered restaurant chalk-boards. Art schools still require some handwork in typography classes.

Most digital natives who are musicians don't make music alone on a synthesizer or with Garage Band. They crave a band and an instrument. Of course, they will always promote their music with posters, videos, myspace, pure volume, etc. And, they will lay down tracks with their recording software. Technology is a convenience that won't disappear.

How do digital native poets get attention now? Sure, thanks to technology they can self-publish with affordable on-demand book publishers, and they can put their work online. But poetry slams are like the pre-technology beatnik poet coffee house readings. In my town, I'm trying to find a space for a young poet to write his poetry on the wall of a gallery with illustrations by his buddy accompanying it. Writing on the wall. Why hasn't graffiti art fizzled out with computers? Just search "wall art" and "murals" on vimeo or youtube.

Art a mano. It must be something primitive that we won't ever let go of, that is, until our opposable tumbs disappear. Of course, we wouldn't be able to see it all without the internet...

My son who is majoring in graphic design (communication arts, actually) just had his 21st birthday. Guess what he asked for. Art supplies, canvases, brushes, paint. Yea, we gave him a wacom tablet, which he didn't ask for, but guess what he is most excited about. He's got a head full of painting ideas and is begging me to let him make art on some of our home's white walls.

He's a fan of the artist blu . That's the subject of another blog.


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


craigr said...

Insightful observations, Anne. There seems to be a growing disenchantment with the phrase "digital natives." lately. I've been guilty myself of using the label as a way of describing kids today. Perhaps they're not that different after all?

Anne P said...


I agree that they aren't that much different. Just like us, the tactile feeling and range of non-digital media appeals to them as much as it appeals to us.