Ephraim Schwartz has a thought provoking post – Dumbing down and smarting up via the Web – on his Reality Check blog.

He comments of the thinking of Marc Prensky who came up with the descriptors Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (way back in 2001) to describe different approaches on how humans use technology to process information.

According to Prensky, Digital Natives are all “native speakers of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.”

Digital Immigrants are “those of us who were not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in our lives, become fascinated by and adopted many of or most aspects of the new technology.”

I believe this evolution is already well on its way in the workforce because it’s generational. Look at how the newest information workers choose to work and the tools they choose when given the choice. They drive multi-tasking to an entirely new level using multiple IM chat sessions and collaborative workspaces (powered with RSS) to communicate and deliver  information where and when they need it.

They bring a new work ethic based on continuous partial attention that I believe increases productivity. They keep multiple dimensions of their tasks in in their peripheral vision and in their peripheral attention simultaneously. When these techniques are used to optimum advantage, opportunities are spotted more quickly, rapid responses seize theses opportunities and the power of collaboration is brought to bear on problem solving in a natural, free flowing way. 

When attention tools – the power of intelligent prioritization and the automatic discovery and sharing of critical business information are added to the mix — there is real potential to unlock a new level of productivity.