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, K!

The Global Finn, interviewed in NY, on his way from Vegas to Europe:

“The links [in today’s digital world] are so many that to build the real power you have to understand them.”

Crossing That Digital Border

“My digital life begun at the University of Technology in the late 80s when I was working there as a graduate assistant. I have used online banking since and that to me is a landmark. It’s also there that I begun to use email, as in a communication modality for a larger group of people. We had a great group working at the Uni and we would also play online games together.

So it was, like 1988, 1989 when my digital life shifted to a whole new level. The Internet wasn’t developed content-wise yet but it made my life easier.  And I was more daring then than today, I tried new things (laughs) and I remember I posted something on a bulletin board. So one of the other grad students, a friend of mine, sent me an email to congratulate me: “Great, now you’re on the map too!” 

I think that those bulletin boards were, like Facebook today… that you need to cross a certain border in order to understand the meaning and the seriousness, or the rules of how to act and not act.

I got my first mobile phone around 1991, through work. But GSM, texting and all that came later. At that point, using mobile phones was much more expensive… For me, that wasn’t so revolutionary. Needless to say, now it would be difficult to think a life without cell phones, so that you wouldn’t be reachable nonstop.”

When India’s Not Burning

[K works for an Indian company with a global presence. He lives in Finland.]

“I start my mornings (in Helsinki) by checking my emails on my Blackberry – at that point the day has already begun in India. If India’s not burning I can have a cup of tea. I don’t read the newspaper. The problem is that whatever is there I’ve already seen online, nothing’s new. Newspapers for me are Sunday afternoon entertainment. Actually, the first thing I do when I open my PC is to look at the news first. Both political and national, and then more like business related, so there are a few sites I’m following regularly.

I’m mostly following Finnish sites, and the reason is: I can trust them. It’s funny but there’s still this suspicion. I spoke about this with a (Finnish) friend who lives in San Jose (in the US). He says that his family, they are Swedish-speaking, they are reading Finnish and Swedish sites because they know who publishes the news. In that way, the old media have an advantage. I don’t know where my (teen-ager) son goes for news and whom he trusts, but for me the old media is important in this way.”

The Concrete, Virtual Universes

“Then I go to work and I do altogether 2-3 hours global videoconferencing, I also review presentations, I comment contract and proposal drafts, I send them back and forth (via email). I manage a team (for my company) but they are where they are. I don’t get to meet with them often, we may have one physical meeting with my European team a year.  But that’s also related to the Indian mentality (of the parent company) and their reluctance to finance lots of travel.

For leisure… well, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s sick and tired of reality TV and yet I follow a couple of them… I love cooking shows but unfortunately 80% is that reality stuff, and the rest cooking.

When I go to India (for work) I buy a lot of spices. Right now I want to buy the seeds and grind them at home because then the aroma is better. So, say, I have  bought these and these spices and the question is, what can I do with them. So then I google, say, garam masala, if I’ve made that spice mix, and chicken, if I want to cook something like that. And then I’ll find a lot of options. So at the moment I don’t use cook books at all.”

Digital Media and Structures

“I think that what digital media has done to structures is highly interesting. We used to live in a hierarchical world,with a clear structure. If you look at most of the first websites, or most of the corporate websites, they were hierarchies. Whereas… now, the way we finds things… I don’t know what to call that… It’s a chaotic mix to all directions. And what that is teaching is a new order for the world.

The Web is not a hierarchy, neither is Facebook, and I think this indicates a shift, how to widen your mind, your thoughts of the world. [The world] is not a hierarchy, there’s not a single point where, well, you could think that, “if I have this power then I’m the big guy.” So it may not be so. And the links are so many that to build the real power you have to understand them.”