Thus Spoke Wailin Wong…

After highlighting her article in the previous post, Wailin Wong at the Chicago Tribune was gracious enough to answer a few follow-up questions. As mentioned, her recent piece about participating in a panel at a local high school tied in nicely to some of the similarly insightful themes from Born Digital. If you haven’t read Wailin’s original article about this, please do. Without further ado, here is our Q&A:
BD: During the event you participated in, what seemed to biggest the biggest disconnect between the kids and the parents? What don’t the older generations get about social media?

WW: The biggest disconnect seemed to be parents not seeing what their children find so appealing and fun about social media sites. Some parents, of course, are members of Facebook and said they enjoyed connecting with old school friends and relatives. But many others seemed mystified at how exchanging messages via a website for hours could be fun, and worried that social media was not a productive use of their childrenai??i??s time.
BD: You cite one of the kids mentioning electronic communication as being “less demanding” than in-person communication. Do you see a possible downside to this?

WW: The ability to multi-task in communication is a good skill to have in the workplace. But some parents were concerned, and rightfully so, that the adoption of text-messaging speak and instant electronic communication could erode their childrenai??i??s spelling skills and ability to write longer-form prose.

BD: Was there anything said at the event that surprised you about how social media is viewed?

WW: One parent said she was worried that the heavy use of social media would re-wire future generationsai??i?? brains and fundamentally change their physiology. I was surprised to hear that concern, as itai??i??s one I havenai??i??t thought of before.

BD: What are the biggest ways in which social media and/or online technology has impacted your job as a columnist and reporter at the Chicago Tribune?

WW: The entire newspaper industry is adapting to the digital age (with varying degrees of success). Like other papers, we have to put a high priority on delivering news quickly to online readers. Thatai??i??s reoriented the way many of us organize our time and beat coverage. Weai??i??re also wading into social media, trying to see if tools such as Twitter are effective ways of reaching our audience. Many other journalists are doing this as well, whether itai??i??s linking to stories theyai??i??ve written or looking for new sources.
Hope you enjoyed that. I really appreciate Wailin taking the time to respond to these questions, and as previously mentioned, I highly recommend that you check out her regular columns at the Chicago Tribune.


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