The Implied Digital Divide

Yesterday I spoke at an event I have spoken at the last four years and five of the last six years…the Fair Media Council hosts an annual “Connection Day” designed to put professionals from across industries together with media types.  Sometimes, at least to me its kind of when media folks come out of the ivory tower some–but that’s just my perception.

A quick word about events–I get invited to speak at a lot.  I could do three a month or more if I wanted to.  I don’t want to though.  I speak at events that serve a purpose and offer me the chance to learn something which is why the FMC event is on my schedule.

Even though my background is in traditional media-I am the cross over guy so I talk a lot about new media–from blogs, to text messaging to yesterday’s topic on social media.  Makes some sense since I am an evangelist.

Yesterday’s panel was about how to use social media–and there were probably 50 or so people in the room.  Brian Edwards from Astoria Federal Savings led the panel which included Andrew Jacobs from Linx Communications, Andrew Hazen from Prime Visibility, Gurmeet Dhaliwal from CA and me.  It was an interesting bunch–because we represented an assortment of uses for social media.

The Andrews were interested in lead generation for their businesses.  Gurmeet from the CA perspective eventually tries to drum sales up–but is a little closer to the way I use social media at CBS–for brand awareness and loyalty.

But it was the demographics of the room that I thought was fascinating.  One of the stigmas of social media in my opinion is that it’s for the young only.  Yet from IM clients to LinkedIn to Facebook to Twitter the ability to be in the space is prevalent and in fact more people are in social media than even know it.  Brian mentioned a stat that 66% of users in some survey (I can’t remember) said they were on social media.  I would put the number closer to 96%.

Yet some of the older people in the room started their questions with the preface that, “I can’t even turn on my computer.”  Now I always find that a funny way to start a question about new media–because I always find it hard to believe. The reality is these people are imposing their own digital divide.  Here is a reason why I can’t do this–rather than jumping in.

Then from the younger skewing crowd in the room–came questions about where and how to start.  And these were great questions–but its a matter of just jumping in.  Again I have to think that this is a self-imposed digital divide.  The tools are out there.

Yes, there are some learnings to be had in terms of best practices–but until it’s in practice it’s all theory.

I am always amused when someone tells me they are going to a seminar (or worse even a class) on Twitter.  There are 3 fields to fill in to create an account (and a capacha).  After that there are 140 characters to fill in and hit send.

If you jump in–read a little from others its pretty easy to catch on.

Its time to break down the digital barriers we impose on our selves.  It’s not to say social media is for everyone and every occasion–but there are no rules or barriers to entry.

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One Response to “The Implied Digital Divide”

  1. EKay Says:

    The digital divide won’t occur for at least another generation. You, me (late 20s) and our elders were all well-removed from the general education tract when social media really took off. It’s your child, your niece, eventual grandchild, my son that will cause the divide. Because from about 3 years old on, social media will be a true part of who they are. We remember days when phones had cords, and to check e-mail there was a nasty dial-up sound. There are people living now who don’t know that. The divide is between all of us, and them. It’s just a cute phrase when old people say it now and it makes us tech-savvy people feel good (even though we’re already dinosaurs).

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