Mere hours after I wrote about the digital family I came across an article at the New York Times talking about the “brave new electronic baby“, or the digital baby as I will call him/her. I thought my family was digital, but we’ve got nothing on young Carter Kohl and his family:
Dispatch from the future:
FROM: Carter Kohl, 34 inches, 30 pounds, 17 months.
TO: Friends and family.
MESSAGE: Feel free to contact me. Even though I cannot read just yet, you can still send me e-mail. My parents will read it to me and will help me respond to all your messages. In advance, thanks for getting in touch. I’ll be reading and replying back to you before you know it!
Apparently the latest technobaby craze is buying domains and email addresses for your newborn. Or in the case of Luke Seeley, before the baby is even born:
Luke Seeley, 22 months, has two Web sites of his own, including lukeseeley.com, a domain his father purchased soon after an ultrasound showed that his first child was a boy, four months before the baby was born. Given his more advanced age, Luke, who like Carter also has an e-mail address (email@example.com), possesses a slightly larger vocabulary, which includes computer, mouse and Google, said Gordon Seeley, his father. Luke “knows his animals,” Mr. Seeley added, and understands that mouse has two different meanings: something small that moves things on a bright computer screen and something small that devours cheese and lives in terror of cats.
That’s pretty amazing if you ask me! The article is very well written at least at the beginning, outlining why it’s the new craze, who’s involved, and even those who are annoyed:
“Why would anyone do that?” asked Donna M. Stewart, an aspiring artist who lives in Seattle and heard about the baby e-mail fad from a friend. “That’s like getting e-mail for your dog.”
(She confessed, though, that she sometimes sends e-mail messages to friends from the point of view of her dog, a mixed-breed shepherd, whom she declined to name.)
That one made me laugh! The article then wanders a bit, taking time to mention that people want a personalized e-mail address (instead of a generic Hotmail or AOL one) for credibility. The closing paragraph is perfect though:
So if a baby has an e-mail address, and people do write to him, he has a virtual time capsule waiting, messages from future friends and family, bulletins from the past written long before he even knew he was reachable online.
Pretty intriguing concept I’d say. I wonder what it would have been like to have such a time capsule when I was younger. Considering I’m so into technology now, I think I would probably have found it very cool. On the other hand, would I have felt obligated to reply to everyone? And if every child had a capsule, would I still have found it so neat? Maybe my kids will be able to answer such questions one day.
When I talk about a family embracing technology, this digital baby concept is spot on. Not only do the parents take pictures and video to share with friends and family, they’ve made the baby welcome in the digital world. I’d be willing to bet that a digital baby will better understand the dangers and benefits of the Internet than a non-digital baby (an analog baby?) and that they’ll become more digitally literate sooner.
Digital babies, who knew?!
(The baby pictured is Andy, my friend’s new baby boy, and yes, Andy has his own website.)