“I Love the Way You Hold Your Gadget” GQ, Letter from the editor

Sometimes I wonder if my friends are really paying attention to me when I talk or just doing something crazy on their computers as they listen. Today when I received the e-mail below I realized, I am lucky enough to have some friends who gets me and listens, especially when I talked about my thesis in a recent conversation.

This is an example of a good use of technology. I don’t think I would ever pick up a GQ magazine ‘just because’ so without my friend Matt, I would never have read this article that is so relevant to my thesis ideas. This is where technology does us good–with the help of copy & paste and e-mail at the touch of our fingers, Matt could send me the articles instantly. He didn’t have to write me a letter or call me to tell me about it, but I got it! I didn’t have to buy the magazine to read it, but I could just get linked to it…amazing!

The article is the letter from the editor, Jim Nelson, titled, I Love the Way You Hold Your Gadget (GQ, October 2012). 

The editor jokingly talks about how he was on a hike in California and wished he had his iPhone with him to experience the view. Funny right? But so true. Some people can’t live, and laugh at the idea of not having a cellphone. He goes on to talk about how everyone is on their phones in the city, looking down not up at where they are going. We are all guilty of it–checking our phones as we walk and not paying attention to the things around us. I know I am.

This got me thinking back to my conversation with Dr. Levinson about how the use of technology is an evolutionary process. I think it’s already clear that technology is not going anywhere and it is how we use it that we need to think about. Find our own balance as all this new information comes our way.

What was even more intriguing to me was what Nelson had to say about online dating that shows how technology is already evolving itself.  He said that he read an article in the Times about how online dating can only take you so far because these online dating sites realized that “algorithms will only take you so far, and that the best way to find a potential mate is in person.” So already, the technology is finding flaws in itself. Clearly an algorithm can’t solve everyone’s problems and we still need to find that balance.

So to tend this little thought trail, (which I am not sure made any sense now that I look back at it) here are the final paragraphs from the article.  Who thought that meeting someone in person would be called retroWe can’t rely on technology for everything, but as Dr. Levinson pointed out to me in our interview, it’s a learned behavior that we will figure out, eventually.

 

 

Interview with Dr. Paul Levinson

On Monday, I went up to Fordham University to have an interview with Dr. Paul Levinson, professor in the Communication and Media Studies program. I first found him through the book Real Space: The fate of physical presence in the digital age, on and off the planet.   I became interested with his thoughts in chapter four where he discusses how we now live in a world with technology that interrupts or lives in our “real space.” (He even discussed how it interrupts dinner conversations.)

From our conversation, I discovered that Dr. Levinson thinks technology is amazing. The new media we have is very exciting, but it is also each persons responsibility to find a balance between their use of technology. We can’t tell people how to use their smart phones or computers, but they will learn from behavior and reactions from peers and others. It is an evolutionary process, just as we learned to live with older media like the radio or telephone.

Dr. Levinson pointed out that technology does amazing things. From amateur YouTube videos becoming famous to self-published authors on the Kindle, we are able to reach large audiences with the help of the advances in social media. For example, if I discovered Dr. Levinson’s book back in the 1970’s, and I had a questions about his work, the best I could do is send him a letter. It would take weeks to get to him and even longer for me to get a response. With e-mail I was able to send him a message instantly and receive a response. This is the immediacy that technology provides us and a perfect example of how we use it for our benefit.

Below you will find a document of questions I used as a guideline, important sections of our conversation, and important take-aways.

Interview Dr. Paul Levinson

from “What is Media Archaeology?”

“New media might be here and slowly changing our user habits, but old media never left us. They are continuously remediated, resurfacing, finding new uses, contexts, adaptations.”

–Jussi Parikka

Media archaeology brings together the old and the new. Studying old media to understand the new media, and how they overlap one another. Just because there is something new, doesn’t mean the old gets replaced…it’s just another layer to what we already have. More of my reading notes help me figure out what exactly media technology is, and how it is related to my thesis themes.

More on Books.

I am definitely not a tweeter, but I do have a Twitter. I was reading through this morning and stumbled this quote tweet by John Maeda, president of Rhode Island School of Design and one of the big “STEM to STEAM” leaders. I started getting into my “What is Media Archaeology?” book  by Jussi Parikka and one thing I did pick up so far is media archaeology is a parallel between the old tech and the new tech. We need to study the old to understand the present.

What is Media Archaeology?

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Went to the NYU library and picked up this book along with a couple others. I am looking forward to reading more about this topic and even more excited that I was the first person to ever borrow this book! Ever! That’s a nerd thing to be excited about but what can I say, I am kinda a nerd sometimes.

More Precedents

Portable Cell Phone Booth, Nick Rodrigues 2002

This project draws attention to the separation created between a person and society when they are walking on the street and talking on their cellphone. By creating a portable cellphone backpack, the user can wear it around and when on a call, pull the booth over their head. The booth represents the isolation and privacy of a phone booth. Imagine if everyone on their phone had this on their back. It’s becoming too easy for people to pull out a cellphone and use it and people are becoming unaware of the isolating effects they have on others.

  • This is related to my idea of where the phone fits into the physical space. If I am trying to get at the etiquette of cellphone use, this helps to show the separation. Although I think I wil create something physical, I don’t think it will be as radical?

Social Mobiles for IDEO, Crispin Jones, 2002

This project explores making the use of the mobile phone less disruptive. From the website “Social Mobiles is an exploration into mobile phone behavior…artist Crispin Jones worked as a research associate with IDEO to create five working mobile telephones that in different ways modify their users’ behavior to make it less disruptive. The intent is to provoke discussion about the social impact of mobile phones.”

  • This is an interesting comment on how the phone has intruded or impacted our life and how we take for granted the ease of use.
  • I do like how these objects can be handled just like a cellphone, or other technologies
  • This project puts a new use for the cellphone which I am not trying to do. I like how it raises and awareness to the user and has different forms to address the same issue.

The Cell Atlantic Cell Booth, Jenny L. Chowdhury

 

“Talking on the phone is no longer a private exchange. What if you could carry a phone booth with you and set it up when you needed to converse in private?”

This project brings attention to the connection between privacy and courtesy.  Using a phone is now so easy for us to do since we are not glued to a desk or next to a phone booth. We use our phone all the time, anywhere, answer at the very moment it rings because it is right next to us. However, people often disregard those around them. Not everyone needs to hear your conversation. The artist “grappled with these issues of privacy, personal space and nostalgia for a ‘simpler time.”‘ Something that I am also trying to get at with my current thesis idea.

  • Another phone booth backpack! This one might be better than the one above because the user is fully enclosed by the backpack.
  • I am thinking that in whatever way I choose to impose my thesis ideas to my users/viewers, they will not engage with using the cellphone or whatever technology it is. After all, the point is to find a balance and etiquette not engage the user/viewer in the problem. Unless, they might need to in order to provide a full experience.

Other things I need to look at:

Domains

Just a quick thought on my (big) domains right now.
Physical Space, Digital Space, Communication/conversation, traditional practices

Prototype 1: A “new” dinner?

Family dinner becomes identified by certain criteria that becomes universal across families around the world. Dinner usually happens around a table, with other members with place settings and a good meal. A place setting is a universal symbol for eating, and a formal recollection to the dinner table.

This prototype offers a question to what becomes acceptable at the dinner table. We grew up learning that it was rude to talk on the phone, but now with smart phones embedded into our daily activities and lives, how does that change our behavior? Is a cellphone at the table more acceptable now than before, or does it raise the question  “is this wrong?’

Creating this place mat and presenting it to a few viewers I was able to get feedback on their personal reactions and feelings of seeing the mobile phone as a part of the dinner table. No longer is it just about the plate, knife, fork, and spoon, but also the additional digital element.

Interestingly, reactions ranged from “this is okay” to “this is seems so wrong” illustrating the changing acceptance by our generation. I gathered some feedback through sending photos via e-mail or placing this in front of people. It is interesting to see how the formal place mat has been “updated” to blend with society today. What is funny is that a major comment was “this would never happen with my parents” but it would be okay with friends. Although, just because your friends are young, it doesn’t mean this is any better, does it? Are we turning into a society that doesn’t mind disruption by cellphones? What would our ancestors think about that? How is this a commentary of how technology and digital devices affect our physical space?

Attached is my presentation and here is a link to my prototype brief.

Precedent: It’s a Book by Lane Smith

Books are universal. Books are the one thing that won’t fail us unexpectedly like a hard drive crash. Once printed a book holds a story forever.  As I continued to read “Realspace” and I came across the following quotes that I agree with:

Books, of course, cannot go very far without hands to turn their pages and eyes awake enough to read them. And we need to keep its pages close to our face. But books have the advantage of being readable anywhere there is light.

No current electronic communication device has the book’s–especially the paperback’s– almost effortless mobility, requiring no preparation (other than being literate and having the book at hand) to receive its information.

These quotes also sparked a memory of a book my mom showed me last summer. It was a good book  titled “It’s a Book” by Lane Smith. The short video below describes the frustration between one character that wants more from the book. The following video shows that children may never look at books the same way. The baby, only one and already programmed to think of every surface as interactive, like an iPad shows how the technology we are so used to may cause new problems while solving old ones.

Precedent: My Space by Liya Mairson

This is a “pop-up” play set by Liya Mairson. I have always been amazed and intrigued by anything “pop-up.” Pop-up books, cards, etc. I came across this and liked how it was something that could be easily transported when folded up. In a discussion I had with Paweena we talked about what if instead of having a pop-up playset, it was a “pop-up dinner table.” Something that would be able to move in different locations. Maybe into different homes or public space? Who would join in on the conversation?