Hello, my name is André Valle and I will be blogging here in the Digital Natives Blog on fridays. I am a Educational Technologist and undergraduate student at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, interested in researching how different cultures interact with different types of technology, speciffically within the educational environment.

I am now based in Brazil, where I have been living for the past 25 years, and I intend to present to you a different perspective of the Digital Natives concept. In Born Digital, John Palfrey and John Palfrey investigate the Digital Natives’ interpretations of what it is to be connected, they map when this new generation of Digital Natives starts to be born and discuss how they conceptualize the technologies that sourround them, ubiquitously.

Some questions that will drive my blog posts are:

– What is a digital native in places where technology has been developed in a different way, such as developing countries, for instance?
– How to situate the digital natives who have less or no access to technology due to their social or economical conditions?
– How is technology developed according to specific conditions and necessities of a certain area?

To exemplify this concern of mine, I want to tell a story that describes the moment when I realized that we can interact differently with different types of technology.

Sometimes we are so used to the environment that sourround us and the tools that are available for us to do our day-to-day activities, that it is hard to train our observation in order to identify these different layers of interaction.

I was once asked by my grandmother to help her with the task of sending an e-mail. Back then, I was going to leave in Montreal for one year, and she wanted to have the chance to communicate with me by herself. I instantly asked her to have seat and start turning the computer on, which she did exactly as she was taught by her computer teacher. When the computer was ready to work, I asked her to select the Internet Browser and it was only then that I realised that my question assumed a whole lot of premisses that I had never thought of. When my grandmother was trying to select the Internet Browser that I pointed on the screen, I realised that the mouse arrow was actually shaking in a weird and unnusual way. It was only then that I realised that my grandmother did not know how to hold the mouse properly, what demanded an extraordinary effort by her in order to move the arrow.

My point here is the following: obviously, my grandmother does not fit in any of the Digital Natives definitions, but she made me realize that she had to adapt her usual activities to fit them in the computer era, nowadays she knows how to send an email, but she still thinks in a linear way, following always the same path to reach a goal (she cannot understand that we can turn a program off by pressing ALT+F4 or selecting the X on the top-right side of the openned window, she always needs to select File and, then, Close).

While my grandmother had to adapt her way to write, communicate, etc into a computer, I myself remember of the first time I had a computer at home and how my uncle taught me to send e-mails.

My question is: what happens with my cousin, who is now nine years old and, as a baby, had among his toys an old keyboard to play with? How will he interact with the technology that sorrounds him more and more?

In the following discussions, I intend to bring stories that I can find here in Brazil to identify issues related to Digital Natives and their interaction with new technologies. Also, I intend to bring up some stories concerning the Digital Divide, which gets broader as high technologies get concentrated only in hands of some users, while others don’t have any access or don’t want to have it.

– André Valle

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