In the midst of the discussion about the impacts of the technology-connected life in our ways of thinking and living (we have this week 11 many brilliant insights and thoughts from both sides, negative and positive), I would like to pick up some interesting arguments that point some positive impacts of that transformation.
Clive Thompson think that, through technology, we are thinking more socially, in a very transformative way: developing the ability to externalize our thoughts and compare them with other people in a public way (see his interview to NYT). About memory, Thompson states that we are not losing our memories as
far as we rely on computer and search engines like Google. Otherwise, he thinks that, also on this matter, it is important to understand that we are social thinkers and memory has always been social – so, in order to remember what is important, we use our social connections. Therefore, nowadays, we still use our friends, partners, co-workers and other people around us – and have the augmented support of the Net and other technological devices.
Other interesting aspect he highlights is about the relationship between digital technologies and our social life: today is more and more possible to know what´s going on on other people lives (and heads!). This is what Thompson calls “ambient awareness”.
In his article “The myth of the Disconnected Life”, Jason Farman shows another very interesting aspect: our mobile devices are being used in complex ways that not only can work to make our thinking and our connections more superficial (as explored by Nicholas Carr), but could also work for the opposite goal: gaining depth and fostering a deeper sense of connection to people and places. Farman gives excellent examples of projects that are working in this way. He makes the point that mobile devices are really good in promoting way of deeper context about a place and its community, besides the deep connection with the people in our lives. I think this is really about be smart to use the technology to enable us to perform some activities, in order to attain goals – but we are still in charge of defining the goals and take care of what we value and how we want to live in regard to our values!
Douglas Rushkoff (in his comments to Carr’s article) put the question in a pretty straight-forward way:
It’s less a matter of “is this a good thing or a bad thing”—than it is an issue of how conscious we are of each medium’s strengths, and how consciously we move from one to another.
Rushkoff also states the possibility that the presence of the digital media in our lives can be exploited positively,”if we take the time and energy to honestly survey the characteristics and opportunities” it offers. I agree that the medium itself is not negative or positive – and the important is what we are going to do within this medium and with the possibilities it allows. It is a matter of awareness and growing consciousness about it – and learn how to use it more intentionally.