Generation JPEG

Young people are often called admiringly (and indiscriminately) digital natives, as they grew up with digital technology and are implicitly assumed to be proficient in using it. In the media, it doesn't take much to qualify for a membership in this digital upper class. Putting ones' data on the cloud, revealing ones' personal history and interests on various social networks, or writing arbitrary one-liners on other popular platforms – that all will do.

I'm surrounded by people having their own blogs and publishing videos on youtube, which seems to qualify even for the upper echelon of the digital natives' society. To my utter disappointment, I found most of these people to belong to the most computer-illiterate individuals I ever met.

As an example, lets take a very common task: the creation of simple artwork for a publication to be typeset by LaTeX. Normal people would use a vector drawing suite such as Inkscape, produce the graphics and export it either as eps or directly as pdf. Digital natives craft their graphics by Powerpoint (TM) and export them as jpeg. When noticed about the huge margins (Powerpoint always exports the whole page), they use Photoshop to cut the margin and use the opportunity to export the graphics with a lower quality (preferably the lowest) to increase the compression artifacts decrease the file size.

When talking to them, I quickly found that they don't know any other graphics format, nor do they notice the compression artifacts. Their ocular vision and associated cerebral reception is entirely adapted to jpeg. It's the next step of evolution: Homo JPEGiens.