Here’s an interesting idea taken from the early chapters of a book (Claude S Fischer’s America Calling) I’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?