Technology Slave?

During class this week, a person had stated their reaction to the readings. They said, and I’m paraphrasing, that they were struck that despite the change in technologies we use to communicate, our reaction and presumption about the new technology is often the same. (We think it will be revolutionary, and change the way we interact with one another, cause rifts in our social behavior, etc.) I’m not entirely sure that it can be that cut-and-dry, though.

Today, during work, I was reminded of our discussion. I work for a start-up social networking company that connects government workers with each other. Parts of my responsibilities is to curate and monitor content amongst these different government employees, in hopes of spurring meaningful discussion about best practices or instigate knowledge transfer. A lot of our members are based in the United States, but there are large groups of British and Canadian government workers who actively participate on our network. So, I got to thinking: is that “amazement” reaction completely silly, or warranted in some situations? Is the “wow” in the message, the medium, or how that medium is utilized?

Yes, the telegraph was seen as “teh Internetz” of the 19th century, allowing people (who had access, of course) from far corners of the globe to communicate tremendously faster than before. But most of that communication was one way, and didn’t involve as much participation, or forum-like discussion. I think that Internet has a terrific capacity for discussion. Earlier today, I tried to imagine how government workers or leaders from all different areas of the world could easily share information before, and I had a difficult time conceptualizing it. Perhaps it’s a generational thing—as most of us have been inundated with the Internet all our lives—but I couldn’t picture a world that wasn’t globalized, where people had so much access to one another.

I’m sure it’s just a product of my environment, but I don’t think I could survive long without access to the Internet. I feel as though it’s made my life incredibly easier, and I do feel connected to the outside world, as it were.  But should we feel better for the experience, or too dependent, or enslaved by our incessant “want” to constantly be connected?

-David Reinbold


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