Japanese Freeters and American Omnivores: Technology Reinvents Us All
It’s more than a clichÃ© to state that technology is rapidly transforming many parts of the world. But when you take a step back and look at it from a sociological perspective, it’s really fascinating.
For instance, Reuters reports this evening about people who are literally living in cyber cafes in Tokyo, Japan. The nightly “rent,” it seems, is cheaper than the super expensive hotels and provides free access to the Internet, soft drinks, and Manga comic books. The downside is that these “freeters” â€“ many of whom are forced into the strange half-life of cyber cafÃ© living by Japan’s languishing economy â€“ are forced to sleep in a reclining office chair instead of a bed.
Meanwhile back in the states, a new study put out by the Pew Internet & American Life Project claims that there’s a growing divide between those that embrace “Web 2.0 and information and communications technology” and those who do not. The study splits the public into three broad groups: elite tech users (31% of American adults), middle-of-the-road tech users (20%), and “Few Tech Assets” (49%).
At the top end of the elite tech users group, Omnivores (8%) are said to be those who “have the most information gadgets and services, which they use voraciously to participate in cyberspace.” Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, the “Few Tech Assets” group is broken up into Inexperienced Experimenters (8%), Light But Satisfied (15%), Indifferent (11%), and Off the Network (15%).
There are many potential implications to this study, I’m sure, including the pitfalls of growing tech-savvy “have” and “have not” segments within American society. What’s compelling here to me though is that the transformation of American and other societies is only beginning.
The web services, gadgets, and applications that the Elite Tech Users group are into now will become household terms â€“ the Yahoos and Amazons and Googles and eBays â€“ of the other groups in a remarkably short amount of time. Many of those Middle-of-the-roaders will move up into the elite range, while it’s likely that a whole bunch of non-techies will adopt some level of web- or mobile-commitment.
TeleRead suggests that corporations and libraries should innovate in creating readers and e-books that will allow the elderly and others to help bridge the digital divide.
It’s really amazing when you step back and think that this is really only the beginning, that this whole Interwebs thing is just getting going on a massive scale.
Freeters and Omnivores today. I wonder what will happen tomorrow?