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.

 

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