A recent exercise at the University of Central Florida in which students could earn extra credit by giving up their digital devices for a week (5 days) ended with only 2 of the 28 earning the bonus points.

The digital devices — cell phones, iPods, laptops, and video games — were too much of a lure, especially the cell phones, it seems, which provide vital communication to students. As Jill Hurst-Wahl, an information consultant and digitization expert in New York state, states in the Orlando Sentinel story, “The older generation needs to adapt to what the younger generations’ technologies are, because the technology is never going away.” 

In a related blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education site, one commentator reflects on how the story is pitched as “students give up technology.” This commentator rightly notes that defining “technology” as just these types of digital devices is arbitrary. Did students have to give up cars, ovens, and electrical lighting?

All this has obvious repercussions for scholarly publishers. Not only do “digital immigrants” view certain things as “technology” while “digital natives” view the same technology as fairly pedestrian parts of their normal lives, it shows the extent to which publishers have to adapt. These devices are poorly integrated into most publisher technology deployments (audio, cell phones), yet are ubiquitous and well-used within the audiences of today and tomorrow.

I guess a wake-up call is recognizable in any form?


Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson

Kent Anderson is the CEO of RedLink and RedLink Network, a past-President of SSP, and the founder of the Scholarly Kitchen. He has worked as Publisher at AAAS/Science, CEO/Publisher of JBJS, Inc., a publishing executive at the Massachusetts Medical Society, Publishing Director of the New England Journal of Medicine, and Director of Medical Journals at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Opinions on social media or blogs are his own.