Anja's overflow

[The NeWoS] The difference between IT and digital competence

Excerpts from the June NeWoS

The other day I visited the knowledge forum Region gestalten – Leben, Arbeiten, Mitgestalten in ländlichen Räumen“.

In the context of the conference program, various studies were briefly presented, which mainly dealt with the comparability of the different rural regions in Germany. One of these studies triggered me because it used IT competence as one indicator for measuring a region’s digital competence. The thesis was that the more employees in the region already work in the IT sector, the greater the likelihood of a fundamentally more open attitude toward digital transformation.

Hmm, difficult, I thought. This does not necessarily have to be the case, and some of the older generation are rather inhibiting for a real transformation, as they have been socialized differently. Let’s take a look at the different generations of the digital age.

Since the 1970s, the first IT generation has laid the fundamental, elementary foundations of the information age in terms of hardware technology.

SAP was founded in 1972, as were Microsoft (1975) and Apple (1976) – people were experimenting with the many possibilities of the new basic technology. And looked for business models. Some were quickly established in the business context, others gradually conquered the consumer world.

I am leaving out IBM, which was responsible for the first generation of mainframes called “mainframes big companies” in the chart, because they were already quickly overtaken. To this end, I quote a passage from Wikipedia because, looking back, it shows the incredible triumph of digital technology. (And I recommend reading this passage on your smartphone 😉

Okay, so the personal computers were now established. Almost everyone had one on their desk. Partially until today. Programmers swear to this day that the best way to develop is “on the computer”. Three screens lined up in front of them in a half pipe were very quickly regarded as a personal status symbol of omnipotent IT competence. Man at the control center of the new digital power. Even today, we often see such photos of the modern workplace on Instagram and the like.

Which brings us to Web 2.0, the possibilities of the participatory Internet that began to emerge around 2005. Many of the “digital avant-garde,” as the generation around Sascha Lobo et. al. The people we like to call ourselves have been decisively digitally socialized during this time. They used the possibilities of a networked “loudness” for their own careers. The potential of smartphones (the iPhone hit the market in 2007) was cleverly exploited – and in terms of both aesthetics and habitus, the company was streets ahead of the first IT generation.

The web was used as a subversive instrument and medium, and a new culture was developed, which Felix Stalder succinctly summed up in 2016 with the term “culture of digitality. Although many of the pre-IT socialized people were very reluctant to move into this chattering, ever-differentiating, communicative culture, young people were able to quickly and easily thread their way in. Especially as commercial digital platforms became more adept at adapting to the desired user experience. This, in turn, did not please the digital nerds of the 2nd wave, who wanted to counter capital with their (certainly sympathetic) anti-capitalist resistance culture with real life.

Now here comes the double culture shock:

  1. Capitalism is profitably absorbing the new potential of Web 2.0. This is the capitalist system’s recipe for success: it is able to embrace all trends and exploit them for its own benefit. In this respect, the platforms offered a welcome opportunity for the masses to participate in the digital world without having to program themselves. And the generations that were socialized to be mobile in the same way also largely like this development.
  2. Meanwhile, the old PC-dominated world, which was/is still on the side of the 2nd nerd culture with regard to the anti-capitalist potentials, continues to blithely develop alternative systems behind its 3 screens – on the PC. However, this “programer’s style” fits less and less with the user experience of the mobile generations – the worlds are separating. A cultural “fork” has emerged, so to speak.

This probably brings us to one of society’s core problems, namely why a fundamental digital culture can hardly emerge in Germany as long as this first generation is trusted as subject matter experts (although one could almost do without the female persona here).

To sum it up to this point:

  • We are dealing with a mainstream culture that is extremely relevant to the market economy, starting with the 3rd digital generation, which desires the potentials of the ever more differentiating, smart, digital structure because it ostensibly makes life easier.
  • And on the other hand, we are confronted with a group of people socialized during the 1st IT generation, who maintain their PC logic (i.e.: big screens, sitting in place, static box thinking) and try to develop behind the new, mobile, smart digital world. This then results, for example, in the statics of infinite Drupal pages that manually cast an increasingly complex world into ever new program differentiations. Just take a look at the (well-intentioned) EU pages …

And let’s be clear from the outset: The 3rd generation is not necessarily more digitally competent than the first, but it is more open to the current potential. Provided they are supported in using this potential constructively for themselves. Instead of always spreading fear.

And then follow some explanations and reflections, tips and hints. Because the story continues to turn. Best read it there yourself 👇🏼👇🏼

Access to the digital world

Since painting, our visual world has been shaped by rectangular formats that “convey” to us an image of the world. This is how we as a society have been shaped for centuries: Apart from auditory radio and our own experience, we live medially via a foursquare access to the external world.

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