Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Staying connected

Originally uploaded by MizMagee

Once upon a time, many years ago (1983, to be exact), I was complaining to a friend about how annoying it was to be in the shower when the phone rang. This was, of course, before answering machines became ubiquitous. So the phone would ring, and there you would be, mid-suds, and you'd have to leap out, grab a towel and leave a trail of wet footprints across the floor only to discover that the person on the other end of the line was interested in selling you a Ginzu knife or a new vacuum. Anyhow, my friend looked sort of bemused and said, "But I just unplug my phone when I don't want to be interrupted."

The ground rumbled beneath my feet, dark clouds parted and golden rays of sun poured down on me! Possibly I heard angels singing. I don't always have to be connected! What a concept!

I've had a lot of fun learning the features of Web 2.0. I'm intrigued by the sociological implications of it all, and impressed by the utility of a few of the things I've looked at. But my mind boggles at the idea of being constantly connected. Apart from the sheer craziness of trying to fit blogging, Twittering, YouTubing, podcasting, text messaging, Rollyoing, and being fed by RSS into a single day and still managing to sleep, eat and be productive, I have to wonder what the impact of all this is on the quality of an individual's life. When are people able to be alone with their thoughts? Isn't that important? How can Twittering stand in for being physically with friends, reading the expressions on their faces, hearing in their voices the day's joys and sorrows? I think always being connected means, oddly enough, becoming disconnected. It means trading depth of experience for number counters and statistics generators.

But, as I've said before, I'm old. Maybe I just don't get what constitutes a meaningful experience in 2007. Here I am blogging, after all, and I'd like to keep doing that now that I've finished Learning 2.0. My pictures are up on Flickr and my books are listed on LibraryThing. Clearly I don't think it's all bad. But, jeez, slap me if I start to Twitter!

The picture (forgive the barrel distortion) is a nice example of an analog communication device, located, happily enough, right outside the front doors of the very library that set me the quest of considering Web 2.0. You don't have to be connected to anything but the ground in front of it in order to use it.

1 comment:

Paul Adasiak said...

Peggy, if you think this way because you're old, then I'm old, too. There is no substitute for face-to-face contact (or "F2F" for those too hurried to type actual words and eager to eager to turn our written language back into a logographic one). Indeed, with a constant barrage of e-mail and Instant Messaging, when can you focus to get work done? With a CrackBerry, a cell phone, and whatever text-messaging device, when are you supposed to have your own private thoughts? or, When are children with these things allowed to develop their own wits and independent judgment?