Now that’s a phrase I’m all to familiar with hearing. My family used to have a television visible from the table. The only real time that tv was not allowed to be on was when we were eating, because it would detract from the conversation. I’ve never personally understood this, but hey, rules are rules, and you don’t mess with your parents when they’re the ones feeding you.
Dad used to tell me of when he was a kid. The tv almost never came on. In the morning before school, that thing did not get turned on. After school it still didn’t get turn on, because there was work to be done, be it homework or chores or whatever. Not during dinner (mostly because it was out of site). Maybe it would come on after dinner, but again, only if your homework was done.
It hasn’t been that long a time between when my dad was a kid and now but already the restrictions on tv viewing in his house have changed. Whether it’s because he didn’t want to be like his mother or just because tv is part of life now I won’t really know, but it’s changed. That’s the important part, society has changed to be more accepting of the tv. My mum uses it as a background noise while working at home rather than a radio. It’s really quite odd that such a big device is replacing the radio at home.
It’s hard to pinpoint when that switch came through though. It’s just odd that things are changing at the rate they are. It is kind of inevitable though with the society we live in. Technology like tvs are being mass produced and everyone has to have one so it’s kind of inevitable that they invade our lives. The same way that books and plates have previously. Should be interesting to see when phone use at the table becomes acceptable.
Where are you right now? Probably sitting down at a desk reading this. Maybe you’re at work, at school, on the bus, or maybe even just at home chilling out and you stumbled upon this. That’s all well and good but you aren’t really just there are you? You’ve got the internet in front of you. You’re in a million places at once really. Whatever you can connect to, you might as well be there.
You go shopping in America, donating to charity in Africa and playing with your friend in Europe. It doesn’t matter where you are physically, you’re there. This idea extends beyond what you do for fun however. An awful lot of you will almost definitely be at work while you’re reading this. Maybe not physically, but you’ve got a phone or a pager or some sort of instant messaging service that connects you to work in case something goes wrong or your boss decides (s)he need you.
What has this done to the world we live in? People aren’t truly on holidays anymore, can’t get fully engrossed in a movie at the cinema because they’re always just 3 button presses away from business. This liquid labour is fascinating and wonderful if you need employees at a moments notice but it’s just an interesting notion that our lives have changed just through virtue of being more connected than the employees of not even 50 years ago.
Back then work would go from 9-5 monday to friday and that was it. Maybe some overtime but if you left for a holiday you weren’t contactable, not liable for anything until you got back. That’s not a reality anymore. I can’t even go home from uni without knowing that I have work to do that I can just send off. It’s a life saver for travel time but it makes the distinction between home and a workplace so fuzzy that they might as well be the same place.
Now as dangerous as this could be for workplace relations it’s certain an interesting step forward for lifestyles in general. Always on, whether you want it or not. Every step towards always connectedness is just another step forward into the singularity. It should be fun to see where this kind of perpetual connection takes us.
The internet and it’s community was thought of like a body, a nervous system, all these little electrical impulses rushing around working together, thinking, molding. When everyone is connected, everyone has the same powers. All the worlds knowledge and a global community at your fingertips is a beautiful idea. The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace is a utopian view of what the cyberspace should be.
It’s a nice sentiment isn’t it? Everyone on equal footing and working together as one body, one mind, to solve any and all the problems sounds amazing. And it works from time to time. Mostly it’s just pictures of cats and talking about false cakes but people are still working together. The Boston Bombings culprits were found with the assistance of the hive mind that is our cyberspace body.
The old world, the one we live in and go to work in and pay taxes in, is trying to wrest control of cyberspace from those within it, and has been trying for quite some time. Things like SOPA are popping up all the time. The Pirate Bay gets shut down and starts up again quite frequently. There’s all sorts of rules that create oceans on the internet. Why? The more devices we attach to the internet, the more people who get absorbed into this cyberspace, the less control the inevitable minority should have, right?
Maybe that’s what they’re afraid of, being the minority. Power in cyberspace is available to everyone. If everyone is powerful no one is. The grasp that was once held will be no more. What’s wrong with that in the end? As long as people aren’t completely lacking sanity this power is not a problem. I look forward to the day when everyone is genuinely equal in cyberspace. The way things are going that day shouldn’t be too far away.
It’s kind of funny the way that places change over time. Take the cinema for example, when I think about going to the cinema, I think about over priced popcorn and which of my friends will come with me. That’s generally all I consider, besides which film I’ll be seeing. It hasn’t always been like this though.
The cinema used to be something that was kind of a big deal. When it started it was obviously this new-fangled technology that was bizarre but that’s how most things turn out. Not too many decades ago people used to dress up and make a big fuss about the fact that they were going to the cinema the same way you might if you’re going out to a fancy restaurant.
They used to be smaller too apparently. The cinema I go to has large seats and a gigantic screen but I never really thought about the differences. I never thought it was something to be amazed at. It’s funny how just over time perceptions can change quite a bit. This was helped along by the fact that technology gets better with age. It’s easier to send out movies for the cinema, there’s a greater range of movie genres, there’s just generally a significantly greater amount of options now for cinema makers and the makers of cinema media. Within 2 generations of my family things have changed significantly.
The funny thing is though, when you see cinema audiences in media, they’re always so engrossed in the movie. Flinching, dodging, point and laughing, all these things that none of us really do when we’re at the cinema. Why on earth would I jump over the back of my seat when the huge dude behind me would crush me, unlike the fake exploding car in front of me. The medias perception of the cinema space really hasn’t changed all that much. It’s a curious thought then that our perceptions about the cinema are different if the people providing us with it haven’t changed much, if at all. I guess it’s just the nature of things. Books became less of a novelty over time and the industry caught up to that. It’s just a matter of time until we’re seen as people who like movies rather than profitable ticket stubs.
The internet is a pretty cool device. Shame it hasn’t always been here. Can you imagine that? A time without the internet just isn’t fathomable to me, having grown up drowning in it. Before hand, each message was attached to the physical form on which it was written. If you wanted to tell someone about the weather, you had to write it, and send it (the message and the paper) which would take so god damn long. It would have taken a very long time for the idea that just a message can be sent without its physical form.
The modern world is one in which the only thing you send with your message is the actual message. It’s kind of an interesting development because as messages get sent faster and faster, people seem to be thinking less and less about the content and the person on the other end. The online community seems to consist of the lowest emotional denomination of people. Communities such as reddit or even 4chan, while having many good people, have an inordinately large amount of terrible ones too.
People willingness to speak out with their inner thoughts (most of which should really remain that way) has become stronger with the way the internet has evolved. People are anonymous (to a certain extent) and behave as though cyber-space and the real world are totally separate environments. I love the way that this anonymity has made the internet the hive of scum that it is in certain communities. In those communities defense, it’s like the real world in that respect. You just don’t go to certain places if you want to ignore certain things.
This however is going to be the focus for my upcoming university work. A bunch of class mates and I are going to be looking into this idea of Toxic Communities. The notion that the internet and it’s very design tend to foster this kind of sinister society. I’m looking forward to this study of the way that people talk and the way they think about the people on the other end.
The world today is a busy place. People are running around all the time, working, playing, socialising… except not really. The people they’re socialising with don’t necessarily have to be in the same room, let alone the same country! When people socialise in public now a days they use their phones or laptops or tablets. Face to face communication is kind of redundant now. It’s kind of bizarre to think that something that used to be private, like browsing your mail, is something that can be done in a public space.
The only problem with this is that public spaces tend to be shared, with friends and strangers. This is kind of awesome and a little bit terrible. Awesome because you can do what you want where you want, and terrible for the same reason because you can do that in front of your friends. This article here shows that this is becoming the reality for children. It took a sample of adolescents from Tasmania and found their interests to be shifting from the standard communication channels.
That said, I’m in no position to criticise. I’m guilty, like so many others, of playing with my phone despite the 6 other people around me. As much as I love my friends, my “private” life of emails and personal facebook seems to be seeping into my activities in front of them. It seems to be becoming typical of the youth of the world these days. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with this. In a party we can bring our friends into it in some way, or share media that wouldn’t otherwise be present in public. I’m looking forward to what the future brings, but mostly just to older people not judging us for seeing how our friends are going.
And what better way to network that with the biggest network that exists the internet! It’s always weird to look around you and think just how many networks you’re a part of. That band poster on your wall connects you to fans of the same band. The console attached to your TV makes you part of it’s fan base and potentially it’s online community. Networks are how people survive in this world.
The extent to which networks define your behaviour is incredible too. At university, I am part of an incredibly hierarchical network with the Dean at the tippy-top and all of my student buddies at the lowest level. Just because of this network set up I can’t perform certain activities or interact with certain parts of the university. In the classroom however, there is another network set up. It’s this sort of decentralized network. The tutor or whoever is in command is at the front and each friendship group reports to it and each friendship group sits off on their own. Each segment of your life has different networks all affecting your behaviour.
My favourite network however, is the distributed network. Despite each node having a finite number of connections, a message can get from one end to the other. The internet is one such network. With it’s ridiculous size it’s possible to get in touch with anyone anywhere for anything. What better way to promote and network than on the biggest network ever?