9 June 2009

Efficiency or ambient intimacy?

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The latest issue of Vodafone’s Receiver Magazine is all about a new era of human interaction that is marked by perpetual conversations and perpetual info drip-feed, as enabled by the umbilical of the mobile.

Two new contributions explore the time paradox created by this constant communications flow:

Tools for mediated communication were developed to satisfy needs for contact and exchange with others. They expand our range of movement, they can set us free from tiring routines and toilsome processes so we should have more time for the people and activities that mean the most to us. That’s the theory, at least.

Sharon Kleinman asks: Does your everyday experience tick all these boxes? And thinks that if so, then you’re lucky… Because constant contact has become so convenient that we have to stop ourselves from cramming as much as we can into every second.

Leisa Reichelt, on the other hand, is grateful that constant contact enabled us to experience a kind of ‘ambient intimacy’ with people we care for, but in whose lives we’re not able to participate as closely as we’d like. For her, tweeting and facebooking are a particular way of communicating that we’ve used in off-line life since we first evolved language: Phatic communication. It is not about conveying meaning, it’s about being in touch.

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