Postmodern Alice 2 – Native Digital Alice

What is the use of a book without pictures or conversation?

This is the thought of a little girl living in 1862 but it could as well be the thought of the “Native Digital”, belonging to the generation of those born after 1996, the year of Internet outbreak, and even more after 2006 (the year of the first appearance of the social media and of the Web 2.0) when the natural environment of both communication and learning is made up of videogames and instant messaging.[1] Alice can be considered as a post-modern character since the book opening scene which tells her adventures in Wonderland, where her first action is both a mental action and a re-action: a challenge to the traditional learning methods, towards which her wiser elder sister tries to direct her. At least, all this according to the 1951 Walt Disney version, whose opening is given by the following lines:

“Sister: …leaders, and had been of late much accustomed to usurpation and conquest. Edwin and Morcar, the earls of Mercia and Northumbria declared for him, and even Stigand… Alice!

Alice: Hmm…? Oh, I’m listening.

Sister: And even Stigand, the archbishop of Canterbury, agreed to meet with William and offer him the crown.

Alice: Hihihi!

Sister: William’s conduct at first was mo….

Alice: Hihihi!

Sister: Alice…! Will you kindly pay attention to your history lesson?

Alice: I’m sorry, but how can one possibly pay attention to a book with no pictures in it?

Sister: My dear child, there are a great many good books in this world without pictures.

Alice: In this world perhaps. But in my world, the books would be nothing but pictures.

Sister: Your world? Huh, what nonsense. Now…

Alice: Nonsense?

Sister: Once more. From the beginning.”

In fact, in Carroll’s original work the elder sister is immersed in the reading of her book, she offers a proper model of behaviour but she totally ignores the little girl.[2] Just as ignored and looked down on by “adults” seem nowadays to be the Native Digital with their Facebook, Twitter, Habbo, Messanger…something that many of those who are over twenty years old consider as a mixture of chats and images devoid of any sense. Mere nonsense.

But, as Disney’s Alice points out: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense”. A world from which we “Late Digital” are excluded, as the little door leading to Wonderland seems to show, an insuperable eye of a needle for those who are too grown up. Or for those who cannot find the courage of resetting their own identity biting the apple (remember the Apple logo!) of new knowledge – or, in Alice’s case, eating a mysterious slice of cake and drinking the content of a tiny bottle, just bearing the instructions EAT ME and DRINK ME…though allowing a really extraordinary user experience!

[1] Ferri, Paolo, Nativi Digitali, Bruno Mondadori, 2011.

[2] “Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’”

Translation from Marco Minghetti’s Alice Annotata – 2 (Alice Postmoderna)

by Silvia Monti

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