Our Digital Lives

November 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Still under the attempt of trying to find an appropriate research methodology for my master project which should go a little bit further than just following my intuition, I ended up procrastinating again. But this time procrastination seemed to be part of my method, as it leaded to watching a series of TED talks posted under the title “Our Digital Lives”.

Touching topics like online filter bubbles (Eli Pariser), how to go viral on YouTube and social media (Alexis Ohanian, Kevin Alloca), how constant virtual connection creates loneliness (Sherry Turkle) to breaking mortality with a virtual self (Adam Ostrow) I found myself on a rollercoaster ride between criticism and praise.

It’s fascinating how easily I use to get drawn into the speakers point of view, willing to get persuaded. Although the listener gets a lot of incentives, the initial satisfaction flattens quite quickly and then he or she is probably left alone with a lot of questions like: How can I break out of my online filter bubble now, without waiting for someone to maybe change the algorithms that curate my virtual world in the future? How can I gain more control over my media usage with it being unfiltered, outreaching, breaking the boundaries of my bubble at the same time? What do I need to see?

While Sherry Turkle convinces me to put my (smart)phone down and engage in a real conversation for a change, I pick it up again with Stefana Broadbent, following her examples on how modern technology enables intimacy as it allows us to break isolating institutions. Indeed, how can I use technology in order “to make this life to a life that I love” (Turkle) without losing myself in it?

And in the end, I even have to worry about what might happen to my virtual personality after death (Adam Ostrow – After Your Final Status Update)! Why would I want an algorithm to keep my virtual interaction “alive”? Will people end up spending their “real”-time on earth forming and editing their virtual after-life archive to enable a hologram of their dead selves to cite some newly assembled tweets from the past?

So, this is it? Is that the point where I as a communication designer would have to step in and put those thoughts, concerns and findings of those researches into action? Again it is somehow about translating intangible, virtual material into the physical world. The everyday task of a print designer, isn’t it?
But what will it be and what will it do? Not being an expert in anything really I don’t see myself in the position of educating or providing THE solution. Just informing isn’t enough either, because even if I would manage to provoke a thinking process in someone else, the thought would probably get lost in between all this other information we are confronted with on an everyday basis.

I want to produce something immediate and tangible, intuitionally understood, that in the best case creates an intrinsic motivation and is just fun to do in the worst case. Sounds like an utopian project. And still not knowing what issue exactly to focus on isn’t helpful at all, decisions need to be made! More in depth research needs to be done.

Starting with TED-talks, this post will also end with one. Kate Stone’s vision is an “interactive world enabled by integration of traditional print and conventional electronics” (http://www.novalia.co.uk, 06.11.2013).


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