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Tapscott: Grown Up Digital

Dr Alex Tang

 

 

Don Tapscott (2009) Grown Up Digital : How the Net Generation is Changing Your World, (New York, NY: McGraw Hill)

This is a much anticipated book and I have been looking forward to reading it. Don Tapscott is Chairman of nGenera Innovation Network which is a research company and adjunct professor of management at the Joseph L. Rahman School of Management, University of Toronto. Tapscott is well respected for insightful comments in his books which include Wikinomics, Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy and Growing Up Digital.

Grown Up Digital is a followup on Tapscott’s earlier 1997 work, Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation in which he clarified how different the present generation is from the previous ones because of the improvement in communication technology especially the Internet. Now a decade later, there are enough data to confirm his hypothesis.

This present book is based on the findings of a $4 million research project, “The Net Generation: A Strategic Investigation.” More than 10,000 people were interviewed in 2007 and at least 40 reports have been generated. From his findings a clearer picture of this Net generation is emerging.

Where there are many areas of interest touched upon in this book, almost all are based on the eight “norms’ characteristics of the Net generation. These may be summarised as:

1. They want freedom in everything they do, from freedom of choice to freedom of expression
2. They love to customize, personalize
3. They are the new scrutinizers
4. They look for corporate integrity and openness when deciding what to buy and where to work
5. They wants entertainment and play in their work, education, and social life
6. They are collaboration and relationship generation
7. The Net Gen has a need for speed
8. They are the innovators

Using these descriptive behavioural norms, Tapscott seeks to explain their effect on culture, work attitudes, markets, family, learning and education. The section on the need to adapt learning and education to these norms are especially helpful.

While Tappscott paints an overall positive picture of the Net Gen, it must be pointed out that he is dealing with a particular narrow segment of the North American privileged group of young people (and he seems to model heavily on his own children). It will be interesting to know about the characteristics of the Asian Net Gen or South American Net Gen. One also needs to take into account the digital divide in the Net Gen itself.

Together with the launch of the book, Tappscott has created a website, Grown Up Digital in which a new initiative Net Gen Educator Challenge was also launched. To visit the site, click here.

This is a good book to read about the younger generation and indispensible for educators. Highly recommended.

Endnote: