Posted by: martinworster | March 27, 2009


Technology = progression. Errm, no…

copy-of-_dsc00501Technology is penetrating most peoples lives at an alarming rate. Things we take for granted now just ten years ago would have seemed like distant science fiction. A GPS machine that talks to you, telling you where you are going and how to get there. On my unit you can even choose the accent. Phones where you can see ‘buddy lists’ – flashing icons in real time showing the exact spatial location of your friends as they move around the planet. Cameras that record your location when taking photos so there is a spatial record of your photography (another GPS enabled application). Webcams, Bluetooth, WiFi, GoogleEarth. Months and months worth of songs on a small hand held device. High resolution cameras and video recorders on your mobile phone. Terrabytes worth of cheap storage on hand held devices – a whole life of memories, photos and music in your palm.

It’s all very well and good and totally amazing. But is it? Sometimes I have to take a step back and gauge whether it’s really improving the quality of our lives? All these recording devices so we can relive ‘the moment’ post-moment in Hi Def & Hi Res to the point where the moment might not have been enjoyed at the time. In fact the whole moment was pointless and now pixelated. At concerts, you can’t see the stage for cameras phones capturing the event. At any tourist destination people aren’t enjoying and savouring the sights and atmosphere, rather jostling for the best camera shot. As if experiencing something without taking a photo of it means the experience wasn’t valid. The memory stick is more important than the memory itself.

Then there’s the pixel plague of the mySpace generation, snapping their fun on their Nokias, Blackberrys and Iphones and uploading it to Facebook, Bebo or whatever the networking site de jour is until everyone lemming like flocks to the next hip destination which is suddenly worth billions of dollars. Aren’t I having a good time? Look how many friends I have. I have 457 friends – 3 of them I’ve actually had a real conversation with. And don’t get me started on Twitter..update; I just woke up hey it’s a new day…I had a double espresso for breakfast…now wondering whether to sing Nick Cave or Lilly Allen whilst in shower…..who cares? Blog this. Blog that. I have an important opinion so read it. A deafening Babel of pointless voices with nothing to say. Just like this. Why are you even reading this? You’re probably not – I look at my stats everyday. My market share of the internet audience is nil points….

From a personal perspective, I find that regular internet use has affected my brain patterns. The information superhighway – every bit of information available instantly anywhere and everwhere. It’s overwhelming. Instant gratification. I don’t want to wait for anything. I wanted it yesterday and now it’s not here. Hhhmmmmph. News, music, film, porn, media, social interaction, consumption, debating, buying and selling, paying bills online, ranting, sharing, gambling and trying to, err, communicate. When it’s all so instant and quick it creates a short attention span. What was I talking about? I’m hopping on one website, devouring content but not really absorbing it, thinking about the next content fix, my mind now with the concentration of a pot smoking gnat with ADD. I try to read books and if I’m not hooked in by page two it’s game over. Oh for the days of Victorian novelists and thirty page descriptions on the interior of the kitchen parlour or Mr Hemmingdales divine countenance.

Now, thanks to Google, the internet has morphed into an external conciousness, a massive throbbing supra-meta-brain, a nerve centre of the the masses. I read that health authorities are now being alerted by Google before a virus kicks in as geographical specific search terms like ‘flu cure’ can be used to alert and stop outbreaks before they, er, break out. That’s pretty clever stuff. On a more mundane level Google reveals the current zeitgist with the most popular search terms. Britney Spears, sex, Big Brother, viagra, free porn – hopefully all at the same time and in the same room.

On a personal level Google has become an external mind. Like a friend I ask it questions. How big is it before a lump on my testicle should worry me? What’s so and so from school who I haven’t seen for thirty years doing now? Why does it never rain in Southern California? How much is a flight to Timbuktoo? Where are Liverpool in the Premiership? What are the signs of child concussion? Am I a total div? Etc etc. For someone addicted to questions it’s my new best friend but I still can’t find any answers…

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