Centre for Internet & Society

“Digital natives are no longer those youngsters who fit in the bracket of a Harvard return professional, glued to their PC all day,” says Nishant Shah, director of research, Centre for Internet and Society, a Bengaluru-based organisation. For Nishant, and many youngsters across the globe, digital natives are not any of those secluded geeks who spend hours on the Internet. “I am a homemaker, yet I am a digital native,” says Nilofer Ansher, a community manager who manages members from across three continents.

A housewife, a young college graduate, a freelance writer, an NGO professional and many other individuals are behind the Internet activist flurry. Digital Natives, Fair Observer, PC Tech Magazine are just a few of the newsletters and forums that are connecting youngsters from across the globe and are mobilising them to do something beyond information gathering.

Youth-related discussions, inventions in make-shift laboratories from the backyards of homes in Nigeria and action against corruption across the globe; these are just some of the activities that these netizens are involved in. “The idea was to build a network of people from across the globe who are passionate about what they do. We are not talking countries, it is all to do with people with similar interests,” says Shah, who collaborated with Hivos to create the online platform called Digital Natives.

The members collaborate online to write about various issues. But these online movements can have serious repercussions, “In fact, Alaa Abdel-Fattah, one of Egypt’s most vocal activists and bloggers, has been detained. He is our team member. We are now running a campaign supporting his early release,” says Ansher who doubles up as a co-editor of one of these newsletters. Various discussions have led to solutions. “My first challenge was to create a communication system for illiterate farmers. But I wanted a definite solution. So another member from mobile active community sent a message and it worked and we are following the same system,” says Ajay Kumar, manager, ICT operations.

This article was published in the Deccan Chronicle on 14 November 2011. It can be read here

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