This is a part of a set of selected, wonderful and insightful, observations about digital living from our NYC pilot interviewees. Read their experiences of a digital diet here, and their visions of a digital future here.

Note that these mini portraits are just initial ‘samples’. There’s so much interesting material to be processed and analysed. Stay tuned!

And thank you so much, H!

Constantly Receiving and Responding

“I’m on all the time. There’s a way that I’m aware of … I mean it’s either that I’m anticipating someone to communicate with me or I feel like I have to respond.”

Distance and Closeness, Technology-Driven

“I was really slow in getting into digital technology. I was the last one to get a cell phone… But when I moved to Australia (from the U.S., 1996) I wanted to stay in touch with my family and I would go to the library (to use the computer) and write letters, like really long letters, and through those letters my mom and I would get closer, become more interested in each others’ lives. And my mom has kept them all. They’re amazing.

So that’s when I started to appreciate email but it was still about writing letters. And when I moved back (to the U.S.) I was still slow to take up the Internet, but the speed was slow too. But now that I have the iPhone, I feel like (my internet use) has really magnified… And then I made a film about the Internet and now I’m really fascinated by it.”

Work and Leisure of Sharing

“I’m always watching things, like things that people send me. But that’s also kind of great because that’s how I find out about things that are happening. That’s a thing about Facebook: Now there are people I follow because I know they post interesting videos, links to interesting art shows…

It’s interesting how culture gets now transmitted through these channels, people emailing: ‘Did you see this?’ And then I send it to 20 people, that’s sharing and that’s exciting because there are so many wonderful things being made…

All over, people are using social networks for activism… I’m enthralled, but not only because of the Facebook aspect of it, but because of the organization, I guess that… they use these tools, all these ways of sharing, like in Egypt, they shared with the rest of the world this incredible imagery of revolution that was so positive!

I’m thinking (in terms of the U.S. and the Western world), if we would have more ownership of these (digital communication) networks themselves, if they were more local, like neighborhood networks, would that then promote more participation?”

Routines and Being Present

“I usually turn off my computer at 10 (at night), otherwise I get anxious… and so (in the morning), because it takes time I turn on my computer and make coffee.

I spend a lot of time responding to emails, like the past year, it has gone up so much. I think it’s my job, people communicate via email a lot, but also now I have the iPhone and people know I can be reached… I don’t have to respond right away, but I want to, like, ‘let’s get this out of the way’.

A part of this is useful, a part of it is that I always have something to do. If I’m sitting in a park I’m not really relaxing, I’m checking my emails…

So you’re always on, but not present, so your mind is in another space. That’s something I want to get better at, being present.”