Digital Living New York: Digital Future

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Dear New York Pilot Research Collaborators:

Welcome! This is one of your two ‘assignments’.

Please post your assignment reflection — and comments to others’ reflections, if you so wish. Amelia and I might also comment and ask something related to your post. Check for those during the research period. In case there are additional comments to you, it would be great to if you have time to briefly respond.

[Image: Science Fiction Museum Restroom, Flickr, under Creative Commons license]

This assignment is simply about your thoughts about your Digital Living in 2021. The way we communicate, and use communication technologies, has changed dramatically very quickly. How will your day unfold ten years from now, in terms of digital media and communication? What do you think are the most important innovations, how do you think your work and personal lives are affected? And more broadly, how do you think our societies —  in terms of politics and political participation, business, art, education, and last but not least, of interpersonal relationships — have developed and changed by then? Let your imagination guide you — all kinds of visions, specific and broad, serious and playful, are important and interesting!

Digital Living New York: Digital Diet

8 Comments

Dear New York Pilot Research Collaborators:

Welcome! This is one of your two ‘assignments’.

Please post your assignment reflection — and comments to others’ reflections, if you so wish. Amelia and I might also comment and ask something related to your post. Check for those during the research period, and a few days after. In case there are additional comments to you, it would be great to if you have time to briefly respond.

This experiment is about realizing what we have, when it’s gone. Many of us have experiences of more or less voluntary or involuntary ‘media diet’ or ‘media fast’ in special circumstances, such as during vacations.

A while ago, the NYT posed the Unplugged Challenge: It asked some readers, ‘ordinary people’, to experiment on being offline. Here are their stories. This seems to be almost a trend: There are numerous bloggers (!), such as this one, who advocate a media diet and let the world know about their efforts. Also, several academic research projects are currently addressing the question, like this and thisone.

But what if we tried a media fast on an ordinary day — no cell phones, computers, no games, no movies, no iPods or Pads (and we would even stay away from those old-fashioned media, such as TV, radio, and newspapers, magazines…)?

Decide on a diet day during the research period that least interferes with your important routines and work. Go on a 24-hour media ‘fast’, or a shorter diet, as long as you can manage. Then blog about your experiences— think of reasons and possible consequences of your experiences in terms of communication.

Remember: This experiment is about YOU. Hence, you will have the competence to determine which experiences are important, interesting, relevant, noteworthy. In our research, potentially everything is! So keep an open mind, enjoy the experiment, share your thoughts and observations here, and read what other collaborators experienced during their diet!

My Digital Future

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Just begun reading Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together (a good review of it here). Turkle is a STS  (science and technology studies)  scholar and professor at MIT  and in her new book has addressed many of the very questions we ask in this project:

How do we, in our digital age, understand the self, community, privacy, relationships? While our project is in a sense broader — our focus is not only in the ‘socio-psychological’ aspects of digital living but we wish to weave macro and micro together, and discover the role of digital media, including small routines and practices, in our daily lives — we, too, ask the big question: What does our connectedness (and disconnectedness) mean? And if this is what we experience today, how does that create our futures?

Turkle claims that especially younger people are beginning to question the constant connectedness, and related yet perhaps paradoxical short attention span, related to personal encounters and close relationships.

Thinking about ‘my’ digital future, say, my life in 2021, I too think that disconnectedness will be a gourmet meal, a great luxury, an issue for addiction groups, and so on. Already, in the times of booming e-book markets, the old paper books are becoming trendy. Hand-written letters are extra classy (no matter how beautiful your email font might be, or how cool the included video clips).

If I fear something it is what’s related to luxuries: Who can afford them? The question for past decades has been about that digital divide.  I think that in 10 years it’ll be about digital disconnectedness. Those not in middle or upper income segments (classes …), those who work in service professions and the like, won’t afford to be offline, disconnected, as they are expected to be reachable, on duty, 24/7.

Interestingly, it’s obvious from above that it’s hard for me to envision my own digital future in any concrete terms. Maybe because I’ve instinctively been very wary about all kinds of techno utopias (and there are many, this is one that students often refer to:

At the same time interested in the discourses others engage in about it (as we’ve discussed related to this project, our future predictions tellmore about today than about the future…). All I know is that change is never, ever ahistorical, and I believe things happen in cycles. My digital future in 10 years? NOT alone together, but maybe less, or more selectively, connected.