Micro futures observation: Digital and Seclusion

Over the summer, I was involved in a community design project working with a small village outside of Siena, Italy. The village, Castelmuzio, consisted of 200 inhabitants mostly over 60, retired or cultivating olive trees. The location was quite secluded as it was hard to reach without a car but, still had a flow of tourists coming in to stay in villa apartments of Tuscany.

The project aimed to create a public installation and in the process, involve community members through participatory activities. During the process and discussions, I found out that the older population did not wish to include ‘digital’ into the project. Regardless of what the digital factor would be, they projected unfavorable attitude towards digital artifacts from the beginning.

However, it wasn’t like they were afraid to approach a computer. They may not have iphones, but they were comfortable looking through photos on the laptop screen. Unlike what they may think about digital artifacts, it is already in their daily lives yet, their preconceptions about its unfamiliarity hinders them from approaching wider range of digital tools. The village had just finished setting up free wifi for tourists and they were trying to stay relevant to the outside world. For the project, using qr codes on the public installation to lead the audience to an online website for more information was proposed. While it seemed like an easy solution to lead the audience to the next stage of activity, there was the argument that it was more for young tourists and the village residents were excluded from this stage of the project. In search of finding the end result in which, the local residents received the equal amount of participation and inclusion, digital means constantly posed as an obstacle.

So, in the near future, how would the seniors living in secluded areas fit in the quickly digitalizing world? Will they end up being excluded more and more or will they find a way/ be guided to join the digitalization movement?

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