Review of ‘Digital Natives and the Return of the Local Cause’ by Anat Ben-David. Essay from the Digital AlterNatives with a Cause? book collective, published by Centre for Internet and Society, India and HIVOS, The Netherlands
Ben-David’s piece is an informed attempt to resolve the conceptual fuzziness of the term “Digital Native.” She attempts this in a philosophical manner: trying to move away from the ontological “who are Digital Natives?” to an epistemological “when and where are Digital Natives?” Her reasoning is that this change in perspective will allow us to unpack the hybrid term and thus determine if it refers to a unique phenomenon worth exploring.
To answer the when and the where, Ben-David situates the term into its constituencies: digital and native, contextualizing the words using two approaches; historiographical (when) for the digital and geopolitical (where) for the native.
“Digital” is situated, semantically, in the broader framework of technology-mediated social activism. The author applies the concept placing two events side-by-side: First, the 1999 manifestations against World-trade Organization protests in Seattle and then the 2011 Tahir Square protests in Egypt. Are these two phenomena different in nature? Is Tahir Square a more technologically advanced version of Seattle? Are the basic mechanisms the same, albeit with new faces and shinier phones? more...