Are you a digital immigrant?

CNet has a must read article on the digital divide. The divide the online news site discusses is the one between "digital natives" and "digital immigrants."

Digital natives are those 25 and younger, who have grown up immersed in the Internet, computers, and technology. Digital immigrants are the older group, especially 40 and above, who have had to "cross over" to the new digital world from the old, paper-based world.

As organizations retire more of the immigrants and are replacing them with more natives, the organizations are being changed. The old central command and central authority structures are being undermined and replaced by distributed command and control. Technology and the Internet are the catalysts for often informal lines of communication and collaboration that cut across top-down org charts and limit the ability of managers to "control" the work.

The challenge for communities is to help leaders recognize that this shift is taking place--that the old, authoritarian ways of making decisions in the community don't work anymore--the Internet lets citizens and businesspeople route around the old, top down procedures. If your community is worried that too many young people are leaving, could it be in part because they view community-decisionmaking as out of step with their needs and interests? Conversely, what is the community losing in jobs and opportunities because of outmoded control structures that are not able to lead the community successfully in the fast-paced, highly interlinked Knowledge Economy?

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