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Posts Tagged ‘uncle

Today’s reflection is courtesy of a tweet and a Pokémon Go (PoGo) auntie.

I do not know how much more research and how many more articles like this need to be shared before the “digital native” myth is dispelled.

I anticipate “never” because some people will cling on to what they believe in despite the evidence and compelling arguments against the myth [some curated resources].

But here is a different critical look at the article. Are the old skills — word processing and using spreadsheets — good measures of digital ability?

They might still be relevant in the cubicle age. But this age overlaps with the shared work space, home office, coffee place, remote work, part-timer, and startup ages.

The latter work spaces and job scopes hint at a different set of skills, e.g., the ability to keep on learning and to learn on the run. Being tech-savvy is more about wise use, not just skill-based or even skilful use.

Being tech-dependent does not mean being tech-savvy.

A PoGo auntie I met yesterday personified this sort of digital savvy or nativeness.

The PoGo auntie straddled her bicycle at a raid venue. She waited for players to arrive so that we could battle a Pokémon boss together. The auntie not only found out how many were intending to battle, she also advised others around her.

More impressively, she was armed with more than one phone and account. You can do PoGo raids just once at each venue. Having more devices and accounts allowed the PoGo auntie to participate more than once over the 60 minutes that the raid was available.

The auntie was quite adept at choosing suitable battlers. She had obviously learnt from experience, exchanging info nuggets, and possibly watching YouTube videos.

I call her an auntie, but I qualify as an uncle myself. She was on her bicycle and I was on my e-scooter. We were both successful with the raid and we both caught the boss Pokémon in the end despite just having three battlers and rumours that Niantic had strengthened the bosses.

That auntie and this uncle are technically more savvy and native than the tertiary students in the study even if we do not word process or spreadsheet as much. We learn because of Pokémon Go. We embrace technology because it enables us to learn on the go.

Although I am no longer an academic, I see research opportunities everywhere. One set of untapped research is in Pokémon Go (PoGo).

I am not talking about the already done-to-death exercise studies or about the motivations to play and keep playing.

I am thinking about how sociologists might add to PoGo’s trend analysis. Number crunchers have already collected data on its meteoric rise and now its declining use. While these provide useful information to various stakeholders, I wonder if anyone has considered the impact of PoGo uncles and aunties.

I am not the first to observe how much older players have started playing PoGo. I tweeted this a while ago and someone just started a thread in the PoGoSG Facebook group about uncles and aunties at play.

A quick search on Twitter with keywords like “pokemon go” and “auntie” or “uncle” might surprise you.

The PoGo aunties and uncles are quite obvious here. So far I have noticed three main types: Solo aunties, uncles in pairs or small groups, and auntie-uncle couples. There are more types, of course, but these three are common enough to blip frequently on social radar.

But I would not be content with just describing the phenomenon. I would ask if they contribute to the “death” of PoGo just like how the older set adopted Facebook and how teens then migrated to Snapchat.

We should not underestimate the impact of uncles and aunties. After all, there must be a reason for this saying: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

Last Friday I took my son out for a treat at a fast food joint. We opted to try a special menu option that the restaurant offered. As we were among the few trying that option, a “survey uncle” asked me to participate in a poll.

The survey uncle was apologetic for interrupting our meal, but thankful that he had found me. He explained that he had trouble finding my “demographic” (read: old and with purchasing power) so I humoured him.
 

Survey on Obama’s Cairo Speech by Swamibu, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  Swamibu 

 
The survey was in only English and on an iPad. Participants also had to complete the survey on their own so that the poll was uninfluenced by the survey takers.

I remarked to the survey uncle that he was at the restaurant on the wrong day and time. It was Friday afternoon and kids in school uniforms probably outnumbered the adults 50 to 1. He informed me that it was the polling company’s decision to choose the survey period.

Here is lesson number 1: Listen to your stakeholders and learn about their habits. The company might think it knows better, but it does not.

The survey uncle also recognized that quite a few aunties and uncles in my age group and older 1) were not comfortable taking a survey on an iPad, and 2) did not understand the language of the poll. He had suggested to his bosses that an alternative survey be provided in Mandarin.

Lesson number 2: Listen to your troops on the ground because they are more aware of the issues. For example, the survey uncle realized that the kids around us only bought the cheaper meal items while those that went for the special menu were few and far between. He struggled to meet the quota so that the findings were at least statistically useful.

Lesson number 3: Reach out to your stakeholders in a manner they would be responsive to. As one size does not fit all, you are likely to need different approaches, e.g., in the survey context, this could mean using iPads, paper, and interviews.

The lessons apply to schooling and education. Policymakers and administrators might think they know better or see more from their vantage point. But as long as they are not on the ground, they cannot relate to issues that prevent new policies and change from taking root.

To be more effective, they need to listen to their stakeholders and teachers first. When they do reach out, it should be with a sympathetic and open ear first, not with a closed or iron fist.


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