fast car

Here’s an interesting idea taken from the early chapters of a book (Claude S Fischer’s America CallingI’ve just started reading about the social history of telephone: when a new technology comes to market, we have a tendency when not knowing what its effects will be to project the technology’s attributes onto our own potential behaviours.

For example, when the automobiles first came along, it was thought that they would result in a faster pace of life for humanity (projecting the car’s attribute of travelling fast onto our own behaviour). The reality has been that traffic speeds in cities have, at best, kind of remained constant if not actually declined with the rise in mass ownership of vehicles. But opportunities that have been opened up with motor transport are often more leisurely than were available before (Fischer cites the rise of car touring holidays in comparison to vacations by train, and free time opened up by the use of motor transport).

It’s got me thinking about what we might as a society be projecting onto new digital channels. Shorter attention spans as a result of the text/tweet generation? Looser social links as a result of social networking “friending”? A lack of private space? Short attention spans? A tendency to repeat ourselves as information comes in from multiple channels?

 

 

3 thoughts on “Projection

  1. Interesting Matt. A more prosaic thought that always gets me, is when I’m in my sitting room at home – one wall is covered with bookshelves holding hundreds of books. Another wall contains all my vinyl, CDs & DVDs as well as numerous bits of HiFi (that sounds so old!) and a couple of substantial speakers. It feels cosy to me but I can’t help thinking that my children will have more spartan dwellings as a result of new technology – no books, CDs or DVDs etc. We used to cover our student flat walls at with album covers – try doing that with a digital download!

  2. On the using media artifacts as decoration, whilst it all went wrong when the CD came to prominence in my grumpy view, the use of old media, advertising and all other sorts of paraphernalia will probably continue unabated (there’s a lot of old crap out there to be sold in the coming decades as interior design!).

    But there’s an interesting example of projection in what you’ve said too: the modernist design aesthetic that seems to have become prominent in the last ten years or so, with clean Bauhaus lines everywhere is a common attribute of the devices we use today (particularly so for Apple users). However, do those clean lines of the device reflect clean orderly lines of data on the inside, or a more orderly, organised set of users? Look people’s computer desktops, and I’d say that the virtual world allows those of use who are less ordered by nature to be even messier than the real world (or in my case, my wife) would ever allow! With so many bits of stuff, and an near infinite place to dump them all, are we really getting more spartan, or just able to contain more of our mess in the virtual world?

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