Iteration

In today’s Guardian Tim Lot talks about how the doom of technology and how an electronic apocolypse is imminent 

I can’t see it myself, I love my gadgets and not because I’m a fetishistic technophile who has to have the latest thing regardless of whether the old shiny object has out lived it’s stay.  I love what my gadgets do for me on a practicle day to day basis and though I would survive if they all were disabled in some evil machiavellian plot where an electro magnetic pulse ala James Bond’s Goldeneye turned them all off, I don’t think I would have a problem readjusting.  Partly this is due to by extensive board game collection.

My phone is my daily hub that I use do much I carry two spare batteries most of the time.  I have all my podcasts downloaded to it, The Guardian news feeds into it each day, my kindle is on, my audio books, I have a world newsreader for articles I like to read from across the globe, my twitter links to an app that will draw in and format all the news stories I hit that I want to read. It connects me to brief interjections of conversation I have for 5 minutes on Facebook whilst waiting out side out the school for my daughter and it’s the tool I use to navigate now GPS and open forum SatNav technology has took off so well.

Ten years ago when texts reached their tipping point and it became socially comfortable, rather than a novelty, for everyone to use them, they helped my wife and her sister keep up short but very important communications at a point in their lves when a private event they could have easily have moved them apart and knocked away the family bond.  One hundred and sixty character texts of polite conversation, and the smaller pleasantries that keep a family engine moving in atypical day to day life saved that. At that point the tech of text was enough to keep a dialogue going and in my opinion prevented them from being a family torn apart.

Technology isn’t pulling at us or tearing our societal skills leaving some empty bashful husks behind, I find it’s reinforcing our ability to interact with the greater world and giving us a much needed digital  exoskeleton  if we are willing to climb in. antisocial-train-passengersTechnophobic articles like this are anathema to the progress and beauty to be found in technology and saying “I don’t get it” whilst trying to toll the bells of doom is disparate to the to our social evolution.  We should be supporting each other to understand how tailorable to each individual it can be.

When used correctly these technologies are tools to bring people together, connect communities and bridge personal divides that would have otherwise fell into the ever flowing river that is our lives to be washed away with time and cloudy memories.

A few years back my first girlfriend contacted me on Facebook (not totally out of the blue but after she’d seen me on a TV show where I got my willy out and didn’t say nice things about her…. which is a long story in it’s self) which initially seemed strange.  After a few brief messages back and forth catching up on what each other was doing with our lives and how we’d grown up a lot since those naive youthful times, we fell into the natural Facebook friends rhythm that doesn’t require constant interaction.  She slotted into my stream of daily updates of flowing chatter and minor contacts with family pictures, moans about work, frustrations, revelations, celebrations and the minute.

Being friends again was a fitting detail in my life that was like the completing of a circle that is rarely reconnected in a person’s lifetime and was not something I could have predicted, pretechnology.  Social media in all it’s guises is the perfect platform to foster all the good karma in our souls we are designed to hand out and so rarely get to do. Share posts and likes and comment on the mundanity of everyday events and you soon realise that life can move on without bridges being burned or pasts being buried.

Just a generation ago if a relationship ended then the couple would split up and the jarring emotions of that time would be put in a state of stasis never being allowed to dissolve over time or be given the opportunity to be examined with our maturing precepts. The easiest way to move would be without resolution or closure.  Anger would always remain anger if that was the last feeling experienced and though time may blur that for us, it still leaves a stain on the conscious and gives and imbalance to the schemata by which future choices are made.  With the iteration of social networks it is easy enough to have pockets of contact with everyone in your groups and to look into the lives of where these past flames are. In doing so you realise that time does change many things and the safety of that little screen in your pocket can allow you to happy for the other person.

I find these connections just as important as I do my close friends, my work friends and people I’ve added through some real life social networking.  It helps build a rounded soul and compliments the fact that we are always striving to pass this skill onto our children. It can be a wonderful, warm and nourishing skill the next generation can only benefit from and we need to set an example for them to follow when technology inevitably evolves further.

People who don’t see the benefits of the technology are just people that don’t understand it and this is in no way meant as a condescending throw away phrase.  I personally don’t understand the furor and passion people have for football or how anyone could get joy from going out to the local pub just to get drink and hang out with friends in a loud, noisy bar.  Yet these are all valid past times that fit the demographic of the population who take part in them and I’m pretty sure if someone sat down and explained football to me and why it means so much to them and why they ride the storms with their clubs, then maybe I would give it more of my time and more of my attention.  This is how we should be with the people who struggle with what technology can be.

Cory Doctor, a science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist had this to say back in 2010

Criticising the “banality” of Facebook conversation is as trite and ignorant as criticising people who talk about the weather. There’s a reason we say “Did you sleep well?” at breakfast and “How was your weekend?” when we turn up to the office on Monday (and it’s not that we care about the weekend or the rest).

Yes, people sometimes say consequential things on social media. The Twitter tag #whatTwitterdidforme has lots of sterling examples. But these are rare events that are not Twitter’s raison d’etre. People don’t join Twitter because they hope that someday they’ll be sprung from jail, land a job, or reunite with a long-lost friend. These are bonuses.

The real value of Twitter et al is to keep the invisible lines of connection between us alive.

Cory Doctorow – How to say stupid things about social media

The best part of all this giving and reconnection is that if you find the friend, old school mate, or someone you vaguely met turn out to be a horrific numpty whose timeline appals you and rather than make you feel the world is being drawn together with your other connections, you block them.  There’s no social protocol yet to follow, you don’t need to apologise for reaching out and finding it didnt fit and unless a person is really observant they won’t notice, and if they do, meh it isn’t the end of the world.

Tim Lot writes

“The educator Neil Postman suggested in 1985 that with the domination of TV screens we were “amusing ourselves to death”. At least TV was a collective activity. Now perhaps we are – paradoxically, on our solitary screens – connecting ourselves to death.”

But that doesn’t seem evident to me.  I see movements of people being bought up and carried forward on the wave of social media and the technology that enables that.  Personal stories of uprisings in Egypt were fed back to the western press when media outlets were shut down, corporations and thriving companies succeed immensely or crash and burn in glorious full colours in public thanks to great social communication or an utter lack of knowledge how it works.

When I moved to Wales with the family we chose not to have a TV until we had a foster child who wanted to watch one, as we didn’t want to deny a child something that might have been it’s only comfort.  When the London riots took place I followed several news lists on twitter and sat up to the early hours in bed refreshing my feed, following the events as they occur. This filtering of news and tactile interaction with the screen made the moments more engaging as I sat in darkness scrolling through the different news outlets or people that had been credited as great sources of information relaying what was happening on the ground as it happened. I found I was clicking through links to audio clips and video clips of events, more than an hour before the main press got hold of them.

Once a week I join twitter to follow on going organised hashtag conversations on a topic a lot of people are interested across the world and for one hour we talk about our shared passion, boardgames and all the surrounding pieces that go with our hobby. This idea could be replicated for, lets say for example, new parents who need to wind down after the children have gone to bed, or any other subject for that matter. There’s even a Web programme called Nurph that will pick up the hash tags and turn it all into a chat window so you could join the same conversation from your PC as well.

Teenagers understand this, teenagers are more than likely ahead of the loop on all that I have said and probably bored already with the old hat Twitter conversations and have moved onto something that we as adults don’t yet understand and if you give the techophobes a few months we’ll have a few crow barred reasons into why the next big thing is what will be the doom of all society.

Did you know know that they tried to ban writing the peasants tried to learn, then reading was suppressed as the populace became educated.  The radio was the work of family destroying evil when it begun to turn mainstream, TV is only just recovering from the perception it’s eroding families and now it’s Internet. It is yet to bring the world down and as history has proven these will bring us closer together. It has the potential to weave us back within the tapestry our past, steer us like ancients maritime sailors to our starry unknown futures, but keep our hearts and souls anchored firmly in the present.

If all else fails, Douglas Adams had a very plausible theory

“I’ve come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.”

Anyway.  I’m off to watch porn.  That’s what the internet is for isn’t it

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