We asked Mike if he thought the students might want to open their conversation up to Madison Avenue, instead of simply talking to themselves. He agreed, and you can see the result by clicking here to preview Notes From The Digital Frontier, a unique collaboration of Ball State and MediaPost that quietly launched this week, but which will get a full-blown rollout over the next few weeks.
Notes is unlike anything we've previously published or seen before in this industry. For one thing, it's MediaPost's first true blog. We'll begin sending weekly e-mail dispatches summing up highlights of recent posts for those of you who agree to sign up for it. But they're just reminders to check out what we hope will grow into a dynamic, two-way conversation between us pros and the students' prose.
Based on the initial postings, what you might conclude is that this college generation is unlike any before, especially when it comes to its use of media. As you'll learn from Jason, they are "crazy obsessed" with media -- not out of a crass sense of materialism, but out of a fundamental need to remain connected and interconnected with a digital world that is rapidly encroaching on their real world. For Jason, Internet access isn't merely an enhancement, but a necessity. And his Apple iBook G4 is as important to him as "family, friends and love."
Not surprisingly, social networks loom large with the college crowd, but even that interaction is spawning new demands for media. Britteny didn't realize she needed a digital camera until she began spending time on MySpace and Facebook. For her, digital photography isn't a device for creating digital still-lifes, but for remaining connected to others in her second life in online social communities. The digital interchange isn't simply experiential. As Naomi points out, it's also quite practical. Studying abroad in Madrid for several months, Naomi found Facebook a cost-effective way to stay in touch with friends and family.
The posts range from practical to personal. Erynne shares how she cannot live without her cell phone, while Amanda reveals how she was "seduced" by her Nano. But it was Mike's opening post that more or less framed what we're hoping to glean from Notes: unabridged, unfiltered views of the new media consumer's sense of empowerment.
"Welcome to the first in a series of what I hope will be, if nothing else, entertaining sojourns through the glittering world of amateur media criticism," Mike writes, "Presumably I have some level of media expertise that assigns my musings a value greater than narcissism and voyeurism, the two real powerhouses behind the Internet revolution, so I'm feeling pretty important. That said, let's get to it...."
So get to it. Listen in. And speak up. We know a few kids who will be. And their names are Mike, Rafael, Dustin, Amanda, Jason, Britteny, David, Erynne, Naomi, Betsy, and Sean.