"I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do."
-Hal, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Welcome to the internet’s one billionth blog! (Please don’t be alarmed by the balloons falling down around you, they are 100% organic, free-trade latex.)
My name is George and I’ll be your host through this motley hodgepodge of rants, short-stories, and brain-droppings. Although much of what you see might appear unconnected, there is a general theme: life in the "Web 2.0" age is becoming unmanageable for people who did not grow up with the internet embedded in their daily life (digital immigrants). Although our technological gurus have made promises that seemingly justify the inherent trade-off involved when we fast-track our lives, this site is for those who take those promises with a grain of salt.
I believe that people—like myself—who were born around 1980 belong to a special subset generation that will forever live in-between the analog and digital worlds, never fully outgrowing one and never acclimating to the other. If we want to survive the digital age with our sanity intact, we need to take time out of their oversubscribed schedules to understand the changing media landscape—the information environment that surrounds us and binds us—or otherwise become either prematurely obsolete or be forever playing catch-up.
The pace of 21st Century cannot be overestimated, but the types of changes are so numerous as to prove daunting to almost anyone interested in grasping the impact they will have on their own life. In an age of information overload, I want to avoid merely adding to the fracas of words and slogans (“don’t be evil” and “everything that’s bad is good for you”) and instead attempt a curatorial feat of merely highlighting the best of what’s out there. Over-arching themes will include:
- The future belongs to the rich (more so than the present);
- Democracy’s drift towards the dustbin of history thanks to technological atrophy of the public sphere;
- Predicting the role of the cities of the future as impacts economics, culture, and social justice;
- The demise of 20th Century journalistic standards and practices; and
- The increased personalization of mediated experience, which will make life look like Demolition Man had a baby with Minority Report.
I’ll focus on the books, articles, TED talks, podcasts, etc., especially for those of you who are neither technophiles nor technophobes but still believe that embracing and understanding technology is necessary for your professional and personal survival. These sources will be chosen from my own drifting on a sea of words and opinions, having fished out what’s useful to me. I am representative of many 28+ year olds (digital immigrants) who just don’t see the point of most technological boosterism coming out of outlets such as TechCrunch, Fast Company, and especially Wired. This blog is for you if one or more of the following are true:
You embrace new technology only when its worth and value have been proven by others but refrain from downloading new software just to try it;
You have had the same laptop for the last five years and are baffled by people who buy a new iPhone with each new generation;
- You got really pissed off when Google Maps/iTunes/Facebook forced you to adopt their new version, regardless of how spiffy it looked;
- You have never received a Snap Chat, have never been ‘mayor’ of store, or needed someone under the age of 30 explain how hash-tagging works;
- You still own CDs
- You make more than one non-work-related phone call per week; or
- You make sure your texts are grammatically correct and fully spelled-out before sending.
However, just because we digital immigrants don’t see a need for snapchatting and retweeting, it does not mean we should collectively bury our head in the ground. The digital natives of the world are coming up and soon it will be their world as much as ours. If we don’t want to be on the wrong end of ageism before our time, we must adopt a posture of open-mindedness, vigilance, groundedness, and empathy, which are our only comparative advantages in this new digital meta-country we're all living in.
The future belongs to the programmers. They speak a different language than us and one day we will be penalized like all immigrants for not assimilating. But our analogue outlook is worth preserving as much as your grandma’s tomato sauce recipe or grandfather’s annotated torah. Eventually, on our way to dying out, we digital immigrants will be a minority; and perhaps we’ll be treated as such by our own children.
I do not claim that by eschewing the latest technologies, we somehow become nobler beings. But, people should have a choice to believe what they want and automatically adopting new technology into the workplace and expecting everyone to incorporate them into their life is shoe-horning people into a set of beliefs and a subtextual ethos that borders on the religious (especially if you’ve ever heard one of these tech-types talk about the future). As digital immigrants, we will have to adjust to these impositions while navigating adulthood amidst worsening economic circumstances and encumbered by the unrealistic expectations of our forebears.
Great. Really looking forward to these next few decades.