Thursday, June 20, 2002

Today's Ditherati link was an ABCNews article called Living in a Wireless World. The article quotes Michael Zey (professor, futurist, author) extensively. Two quotes in particular struck me:

The dark side — and we're already seeing it [in other countries] — is people that are addicted to it and not using it informatively, but as an escape," says Zey. "There aren't any personal relationships and they never to make new social bonds."

OK, so every technology has a dark side. But this isn't quite it for connectedness, as most people seem to use more connectedness not to retrieve information but to chat. I was most addicted to Internet-as-escape in early university, when I spent many hours playing fantasy muds. That led to meeting other "mudders" in person at the 1992 GenCon in Minneapolis. A bunch of students from Ontario and a few north-east American states drove parents' cars or bummed rides to the convention, and we misfits shared a few cheap hotel rooms. We stayed up late, played games, loved the convention. We made social bonds, even though some of us were the geekiest oddities you can imagine. I see this happening again and again: readers of the FoRK mailing list gather for dinner in San Francisco, bloggers arrange to meet at bars. Connectedness allows us to get to know far-distant but similar-minded people. Then when we travel or move cities (as we increasingly seem to do) we may have friends there to meet us.

"We're already used to the idea of cell phones and the Internet ... It won't take long to adopt [sic] to [the new technologies]"

Now Zey is being too optimistic, rather than too pessimistic. It always takes us a while to adapt to new technologies. We adapt, and then we adapt some more, and we are often not done adapting when the new technology is superseded by a newer one.

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