Thinking Allowed

A blog to detail my work at QU.

It’s a Techno World

Posted By admin on November 29, 2009

How reliant are you on your cell phone? I only have a basic phone and I personally use mine as an address book, phone book, appointment calendar, camera, and daily alarm clock. I can only imagine how dependent I would be if I had a Blackberry or an iPhone. This makes me wonder, do we depend too much on our cell phones (and other technologies)?

In reading an excerpt from H. Rheingold,’s Smart Mobs I began to reflect how dependent our culture, myself included, has become on technology. The example in our readings of the karaoke bar party where only four of the Japanese youth showed up on time while dozens more “stayed in touch through voice and text messages while they trickled in. ‘Kids have become loose about time and place. If you have a phone, you can be late,’ added (Tomoko) Kawamura.” The author called this “softening of time”.

As questioned in the same reading, “Has the definition of “presence” become uncoupled from physical places and reassigned to a social network that extends beyond any single location? According to (Mizuko) Ito,’ as long as people participated in the shared communications of the group, they seemed to be considered by others to be present.’”

As a person who is habitually on-time, I have noticed that cell phones have made it more excusable to run late since you can just phone or text the person(s) waiting. When I was growing up, you would have to find a pay phone, and then could only contact someone else who was near a land line. Now, you can call or text people in a park or coffee shop. Anywhere, really, as long as they have cell reception.

I found the blog post “7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable” applicable to this week’s readings. Sometimes advancements in technology can enable someone to get even more isolated. From grocery shopping online, to watching movies, to talking with friends, you never really have to leave your home.

Always On

Cyber-theorist Linda Stone says that we are no longer multitasking in life, but paying continuous partial attention. “To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY.”

She says, “In a 24/7, always-on world, continuous partial attention used as our dominant attention mode contributes to a feeling of overwhelm, over-stimulation and to a sense of being unfulfilled.”

In listening to The Persistence of Memory about Gordon Bell’s experience lifelogging I was amazed that someone would voluntarily allow that intrusion into their life. I could not imagine having my entire life documented, even if I was the only viewer of that information. That is one reason video phones have never appealed to me. Who would want to do their hair and makeup solely to talk on the phone?

As the3rd mentions in his blog post “The good parts of being watched” there are some good aspects to being watched — crime solving and cracking down on terrorism. However, I think as the government or law enforcement rely more heavily on technology to monitor movements, our personal rights risk being violated.

So, while technology can be helpful to our everyday lives, I think we need to be careful not to depend on it fully or allow its encroachment on our everyday lives without asking questions. The link tweeted by MidnightHayes reminds us that getting lost in a wired world is really hard to accomplish.

About The Author



3 Responses to “It’s a Techno World”

  1. the3rd says:

    In your post you say:

    “However, I think as the government or law enforcement rely more heavily on technology to monitor movements, our personal rights risk being violated.”

    I completely agree with you. I posted “The good parts of being watched” after writing a response about how the technology is violating the Privacy Act of 1974. I talked about it primarily in terms of web advertising, but it is certainly applicable to other areas as well. That said, I know our rights may be violated with us being watched; however I’m really starting to believe that the benefits of being watched outweigh the “costs”. I know I think this invasion goes against the Privacy Act – but wouldn’t you rather be safe knowing criminals, terrorists, etc. will have a much tougher time getting away with crime? It can put a stop to a lot of bad things. Nevertheless, I don’t really like information being passed without consent (which is the part that mostly goes against the Privacy Act) – but I do believe there is a time and place for the passing of information (for example, the Justin Barber case).

  2. Twunked says:

    I think the difference here is that our entire judicial system is structured with the notion that it’s better to let criminals go free than innocent people be jailed. Constant supervision is a loss of freedom — that is, innocent people are in a sort of jail so that criminals can be physically jailed.

    The counterargument here, of course, is “If you don’t have anything to hide, why should you care?” And the answer to that is not that I should have to prove my innocence by letting you watch me. We do not live in a totalitarian state. And surveillance over people — inherently power and control — is the hallmark of a totalitarian state. (Not to Godwin the thread or anything.)

    And getting told to opt in or pay more is manipulating people into submission. Given the politicization of science (something I’d've bet money you’d be one of the first to point out) and scientific research, who sets the standards? In 10 years, I will have the same likelihood of getting lung cancer as a non-smoker. Despite our current social prejudices against fat, people who have bariatric surgery are not healthier, despite their being thinner (bone loss, nutritional deficiencies, dental health, muscle atrophy — just for starters). Fat is particularly political right now. And today’s good practice and common knowledge is tomorrow’s joke: Everyone knows that modern science has proved black people have smaller brain cavities, right? Slavery is in the Bible, therefore God condones it, right? (both real arguments that were made during this country’s history.)

    Humanity is messy and wrong and weird and joyful and beautiful and crazy. That’s why democracy is so messy and inefficient. Again, those governments that are the most efficient are the most totalitarian. You can be against raping babies AND against Megan’s Law.

    I’m being over-the-top on purpose to illustrate this point: if you protect people from everything bad that could happen in this world, you also protect them from everything truly great, too. Freedom is dangerous. That doesn’t make it any less wonderful. And that doesn’t mean, in my opinion, we should have any less of it.

  3. Twunked says:

    Sorry, I left out a word in the first line of the third graf – should read “And getting told to opt in or pay more is manipulating poor people into submission.”