Almost every domain of human life today is being infiltrated by technology. Smartphones, smart watches, smart homes, smart bicycles: little networked computers are the vigilant watchers surrounding us, our constantly close companions. A natural side effect of computer activity is data: machines love to produce organized data about whatever they can. It’s what they do best, really.

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For years now, decades even, most people in this country have had all kinds of data collected around and about them. The data is organized as information, stored in different places for different reasons. I would say more than 99.9% …


Something more than connection is happening on the internet.

Intimacy is a concept that’s full of complexity. Intimacy is important, a special kind of attention. Maybe it’s familiarity: “togetherness” we gain from patterns of disclosure, contact, or connection.

In 2007, Leisa Reichelt wrote about something she called “Ambient Intimacy.” She was talking about using twitter, and how it was possible, “to keep in touch with people with a level of unusual regularity.” Reichelt recognized more than a casual awareness she had towards her social media feed. There was involvement: she was internalizing fragments of personal disclosure from social media in a way that signaled intimacy. Random thoughts from people, reports of everyday activity was brought to the twitter feed all at once from outside the confines of her daily life. …


The world isn’t flat because it looks that way on google maps. It would seem so, but it’s not.

Psychology research has always been enchanted by the frontiers of virtuality. New, alien worlds are exciting phenomena. As I am writing this, ubiquitous computational technology allows for a transition of human presence into the “half-world” of internet. As we drift with our eyes glued to computer devices, we are embarking on a migration of consciousness into cyberspace. A new worldview is emerging, and along with that shift there are casualties of being. One of those is the death of geography.

Smartphones give us the physical world on a silver platter. Real time cartography, representations of our physical landscape is now at our beck and call. We have interpretations of the physical world presented to us in a way that seems highly useful and often necessary. Our relational environment, the world as we know it on our phones, is drawn with acumen enough for us to value its presentation as reality itself. We know geography as the physical space illustrated on the screen. We recognize those patterns of data as what’s real in the world. …


You’re walking down the street. A person approaches you smiling and says, “Hey cyborg, you know what time it is?”

Would you feel insulted, a little offended? I know I would be: cyborgs have gotten a bad rap in western culture. The classic “cyborg” persona carries a lot of negative stuff with it. Cyborgs are antagonists: cunning, dispassionate characters. They’re evil in a tragic sort of way. Cyborgs represent some kind of conflict between human and machine, an argument of mechanization against person-hood. Cyborgs are alien, they overwhelm us with our own likeness and shape. To be a cyborg is to represent otherness.

The truth is we are that otherness. It is us, we are the cyborgs. …


I recently got involved with a research group taking a closer look at social saturation. What the heck is social saturation, anyway? Social saturation is a lot of things. One straight forward explanation is that in today’s world of accessible technology, we explore and are exposed to a wide variety of different viewpoints. Perspectives that live far beyond our immediate environment. Think of social media, smartphones, the internet, video games, email, immigration, travel, television, and so on. Our consciousness is constantly being confronted with the myriadic stuff of social technology. So much that our daily experience and life patterns become saturated with input from dynamic and fragmentary sources outside of proximal environment. Being the humans that we are, we take a little bit of whatever we experience and internalize it. We identify with all the voices, personalities, celebrity we are exposed to, the otherness of travel, the multiplicity of online interactions and dialogue. …

About

Avery H Richards

Social Technology and Public Health. Human/Computer Interaction, Virtuality Studies.

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