Friday, September 18, 2009

The Digital Age and News

I went back home to visit my parents last weekend and noticed something very odd: my dad woke up on Sunday morning, drove to the gas station, and bought the Sunday newspaper. As someone who has grown up with a computer, I have never spent money to purchase my news. So, I got to thinking about what effect the Internet, in terms of obtaining news, has on older generations of people who have not grown up with the same technology that I have.

The Internet has an intricate history, but it is not relatively long. Our parents and grandparents did not grow up in the era of computers and many of them still don't even know how to operate one, let alone go online to read about the news. My own dad is a prime example; my family has had a home computer for years and I can count on one hand the number of times he's used it.

So if printed newspapers continue to disappear, what will people of older generations do to retrieve their news? Can you teach an old dog new tricks? Can a someone like my father learn to use, accept, and enjoy the Internet?

I recently read a blog post from WordPress that discussed the demise of newspapers."When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution," says Clay Shirky. "They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place." The truth of the matter is that instead of dreading and worrying about the demise of newspapers, people should look to the future and realize the many advantages that digital news has to offer.

The end of newspapers may not be as big a crisis as many think. After all, it offers a much more convenient and efficient way to view different publications at once. In the end, all generations need to embrace, or at least make peace, with the digital age.

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