Digital Native Lecture – Matt Johnston

On Friday 18th January 2013, we ended our day with an hour long lecture about the Digital Native’s that was conducted by Matt Johnston. Below are the notes that I took throughout this session:

Becoming aware of the water we swim in and how it leads us to the future of photography…

What is the ‘Digital Age’?

  • Agrarian/Agricultural Age: advances in crop sciences, people could grow and sell, became a big business
  • Industrial Age: mass production and standardization
  • Digital Age: information, not about the technology itself
  • Ability to share, search, find information
  • Ability to produce the information
  • iPhone is a good example – it is a device that does all of these things on one single device
  • Convergence of media – we are an example of this
  • We can discover everything from where we are
  • The digital age is an age in which we can easily find, share and consume information via linked digital devices
  • The validity of the information might not always be right
  • There is too much information for it all to be accurate
  • Everybody makes different judgments on the internet – e.g. sponsored links, buying something online

Who inhabits the ‘Digital Age’?

  • Digital natives
  • … Born after 1980, when social digital technologies, such as UseNet and bulletin board systems, came online. They all have access to networked digital technologies. And they all have the skills to use those technologies.” – John Palfry and Urs Gesser
  • Noriko Yamaguchi – Keitai Girl No. 3, 2004
  • We are surrounded in digital era – there is a barrier, communication from our chosen technologies, like working through a translator all the time
  • Anna Malagrida – Christina, 2000
  • Michealangelo Merisi da Caravaggio – Davide con la testa da Golia, 1609-10
  • Gabriella Herman – Bloggers 2012

Digital Settlers

  • People born before 1980 but who have embraced the digital age and have chosen to live a digital life
  • They have had to adapt
  • Elicit a weird awkwardness
  • Guthrie Lonergan, MySpace intro playlist, 2005
  • More and more of it is designed to be intuitive
  • The more things you collect and the more information you collect makes it ‘better’
  • Very little of this information is private

Digital Immigrants

  • Born before the existence of digital, these people have adapted to some aspects of a digital life, either through choice or necessity
  • It isn’t necessarily just age that comes into this – some people simply don’t have the access or skills

So what?

  • Helps us understand our audience
  • Make us realize the context of the work that we are looking at is produced and the work that we are producing
  • One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in” – Marshall McLuhan
  • Seeing other situations helps you understand yourself and build up a perspective – without underprivileged there is no privileged

Problems that we face in the ‘Digital Age’:

  • Mass of information
  • Copyright
  • Truth
  • Jobs – changing the face of the workplace
  • Privacy and Publicity
    • Need to keep professionalism and personal separate – need to be conscious
    • Bill Sullivan – took photos of photos that weren’t locked on profiles
    • Can constantly change the representation of yourselves – name, pictures, relationship
    • Once something is online, it is, unfortunately, always online
    • Larson & Shindelman – Geolocation, 2011
    • Audiences
    • Identity:
      • Comparing the real to the game
      • Understanding real life and in game life
      • Is offline online or online offline?!
      • Is Facebook you’re real life or a digital representation?
      • Popular internet designs of the moment, not the internet as a whole, tend to pull us into life patterns that gradually degrade the ways in which each of us exist as an individual” – Jaron Lanier
    • The Other 5 Billion
      • Who aren’t digital natives
    • Our Tools Shape Us
      • We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” – Marshall McLuhan
      • We have become slaves to technology, they have shaped us
    • Definitions
      • Generative experience


What does this ‘Digital Age’ mean for photography?

  • Richard Nicholson – Analogue, Last one out, please turn on the light, 2006-2011
  • Andreas Muelerpohle – first image ever made in its binary code
  • Paradigm shift
    • Revolutionary science or act that cause a drastic change
    • Photography’s 2nd paradigm shift – 1st moving from paintings to photos
    • 2nd what digital technology is doing for photography
    • Future
    • The hyper-generative


As we were shortened what with the weather, there was a short activity we missed. Please choose to argue either FOR or AGAINST the effect of the digital age on photography. You should make a short statement backed up by a chosen article/video/interview/image/film/etc.

Place these on your blogs.

This is a quick task, spend no more than 20 minutes on this


AGAINST – The more we move forward in the Digital Age, creating new ‘people-friendly’ software and devices, the less pure photography becomes.”

We are rapidly moving away from the true technical and creative skill of a photographer and their camera, and travelling towards a world represented by the manipulation of images and artificial use of graphic design. As I continually suggest: “Editing your photograph to an inch of death is not photography. It is graphic design.


So why do I think that this online article supports my quote and theory against the ‘Digital Age’?

Below, I have bullet pointed the main reasons as to why I chose this article:

1)    It shows how a simple photograph can be manipulated so much that it is unrecognizable

2)    It offers tutorials in which many people will find easy to follow – therefore, people will tend to spend more time making the image than capturing it in the traditional way

3)    It creates a fantasy set of ideas that takes away from reality