digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

Getting to know you...

May 07, 2009 _ 15:00 / Digital Nation Team / comments (1)

I spend a lot of my time thinking about the relationship between humans and technology. What interests me most is not the technology itself, but how we can use it to bring people together and help us understand each other better. Can machines make us more empathetic to those around us?

An interesting pattern has emerged behind the scenes of Stories from Your Digital Nation. People will submit their stories, one email leads to another, conversations start forming, and soon there are threads of a dozen email messages back and forth. Sometimes an experience is so fascinating that I can't help but ask questions, other times I'll help a contributor figure out how to best share their story, or what tools to use. Whatever the case may be, we start talking, and I'm getting to know you based not only on the stories you choose to share, but also through these emerging correspondences.

Here's an example from a recent submission: Charlotte, or Chip, first contacted us three weeks ago; She was so excited to contribute to Stories from Your Digital Nation that she sent in a Submission, a Comment, and she even wrote to Frontline's general mailbox! Charlotte, who is 73, wanted to share a song she had written called Blue Tomatoes, about life in the 50's and growing up with just the radio.


"I was born in Atlanta, GA, in 1936, only child, mostly poor, majored in Drama, married with children, divorced in 1975. Those were the gloved and girdled Betty Crocker days. At 41, I taught myself to play jazz piano, and found a job that led to being a Corporate Communications Editor. I wasn't really that corporate, so I walked out the door at 53, leaving a good salary and health benefits. Now, my real life began. My dreamy show-biz life!"

It was these dreams of show-biz, stars and glitz that pushed Charlotte to learn how to use new digital tools and technology: With help, she learned how to build a MySpace account to share her music. This was the story I thought she should share, and I suggested that she create a submission talking about her journey into the technological frontier.


Well, this produced an entirely new learning curve - she had recently purchased a camcorder and would learn how to use it to make this submission. When she was done, she was ready to send the DVD in the mail... And I suggested she try YouTube instead. Once she had an account on YouTube the next challenge was exploring privacy settings, and in a fluster of emails back and forth, Chip even used Gmail chat for the first time.

In her submission, you'll hear how she used digital tools to make her life long dreams come true. But in the process of sharing that with us, a whole other story about digital life emerged. Not only did Charlotte learn how to use a camcorder, YouTube, and instant messenger, but also she and I, who would probably never have met in real life, have now exchanged over 20 emails... Chip, I feel like I know you now!



The Internet is very useful but don't copy right Music or software, its wrong. and its called Stealing. how would you feel if someone copyrighted something you made like Music or Software and never gave you any money for it?
would you like it no you wouldn't so don't do it online.

Anonymous / September 19, 2009 _ 22:20


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posted February 2, 2010

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