Co-Authored by Cynthia Kossayan
When we studied social sciences in college, we learned a systematic way of understanding topics and issues. It’s a very linear process with a finite number of data points, well-defined methods, and there was always that defined period when the data collection ended.
Our real-life experiences outside of academia in the design world have been anything but linear. As we’ve worked on a range of research and design programs at SKD, we have been thinking critically about the linear path we learned in school.
This is due in part to the shifting nature of information and in part to who we are. In a program we did recently for a technology client, we became very immersed in Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, terms coined by Marc Prensky. He uses the terms to draw an analogy about people’s understanding technology to a country’s natives, who find the local religion, language, and cultural means as natural and indigenous, compared with immigrants who, when new to a country, often need and are expected to adapt and begin to adopt the local culture.
We, along with all of the other young people entering the workforce, are Digital Natives.
We are different practitioners dealing with completely different sets of data than our predecessors.
Today, data is scattered and it’s pervasive. There are pools of data constantly being updated, filtered, created and archived and they’re sitting, waiting to be mined. According to Don Tapscott, there have been 5 exabytes of data collected between the dawn of civilization and 2003. (An Exabyte equals one quintillion bytes). Today, 5 exabytes of data are collected every two days!