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Are improvements to communication technology bringing people together?


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10 replies to this topic

#1
Mentat

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Today the majority of people have the means to contact most anyone in the world just by reaching in their pocket or purse. We have unlimited international cell phone plans, text messages, Skype, online chat, voice mail, email and dozens of other ways to communicate with one another wherever and whenever we wish. Thanks to services like Facebook, we can share photos and know what family members and old friends are doing or thinking wherever they might be. But my question is, are these improvements to communications technology really helping the world? Are we becoming more sociable, neighborly people? Are relationships with friends and family getting stronger? Is the collective exchange of thoughts and ideas bettering humanity? What do you think?
"You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're going to get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible: that maybe you survive." - Doctor Who, "The End of the World"

#2
Chronomaster

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It's something of a double edged sword. I personally feel that I probably make less of an effort to actually stay in touch with people because there's not a lot to talk about when I can see day in day out what they're up to thanks to their status updates and tagged photos on facebook or tweets on twitter. These sites do make it easier to communicate, as channels of communication, but I find that actually it's mostly indirect... I don't ask what my friends are doing, I just check out my news feed. I think social relationships are going to undergo a massive transformation in the decades ahead, some might already say that the way we interact today would be almost unrecognisable to someone from a few decades past. Is 'conversation' itself going to die off!? Probably not, technology actually allows us to interact with a much wider social circle than we've ever been able to. Does that mean we spend less time *with* friends and family. I think so. It'll be interesting to see what happens when the internet inevitably becomes a real time full immersive virtual reality environment :p
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#3
Craven

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I think it does. Yeah maybe relationships changed, but that's natural thing. Human relationships were diffrent in middle ages, in 18th century, 19th century and so on. But never had we such flexibility and reach. Just 20 years ago boy in small town who loved to make plane models still had to play ball with his friends and talk about what interested most people. While now he can share his passion with others like him. Access to hobbies, interests, information, new ideas, room for exchange of experience and questions is completely diffrent. Modern telecommunication is a technological singularity. It didn't happen over night but I really believe it fits description. And like everything it has its good and bad sides.
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#4
psikeyhackr

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More people producing more BS. Some knowingly producing BS and others echoing BS. We have computers everywhere. Nearly all of them are von Neumann machines. But you can find people with degrees in computer science that can't explain electricity and von Neumann machines. Most computer books don't use the term. So for all of the so called gigabytes of information the density of relevant comprehensible information is pretty low. Read chapter 10 of The Art of Electronics for a good explanation. But that book does not use the term. Our so called economy depends on a lot of information hiding so there are terabits of shallow BS flying around. psik

#5
Prolite

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More people producing more BS. Some knowingly producing BS and others echoing BS.

We have computers everywhere. Nearly all of them are von Neumann machines.

But you can find people with degrees in computer science that can't explain electricity and von Neumann machines. Most computer books don't use the term. So for all of the so called gigabytes of information the density of relevant comprehensible information is pretty low.

Read chapter 10 of The Art of Electronics for a good explanation. But that book does not use the term.

Our so called economy depends on a lot of information hiding so there are terabits of shallow BS flying around.

psik


With all due respect, I think you're just having a conversation with yourself. What's your obsession with Neumann machines!? Jeez, you remind me of that Anime virtual reality guy lol.

Anyway, I think today's technology is affecting our communication in a very adverse way. It's not helping us. It's hurting us. The value of personal friendship and relationships has become shallow and distasteful. Answer me this: WHY is it considered acceptable for someone to be checking their mobile device while you're talking to them at the same time? Or why is it okay that a bunch of friends can all be in the same physical location but none of them are talking to one another; they're all talking on their damn mobile devices. This pisses me off.
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#6
Caiman

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Anyway, I think today's technology is affecting our communication in a very adverse way. It's not helping us. It's hurting us. The value of personal friendship and relationships has become shallow and distasteful. Answer me this: WHY is it considered acceptable for someone to be checking their mobile device while you're talking to them at the same time? Or why is it okay that a bunch of friends can all be in the same physical location but none of them are talking to one another; they're all talking on their damn mobile devices. This pisses me off.

This is a massive bugbear of mine too, and has been for a number of years now. It's one way that technology is visibly, and directly, undermining personal relationships, without a doubt- as if taking a call or responding to a text message is more important than the conversation you're involved with there and then.

On the other hand, I do value the fact that the internet especially, allows me to maintain contact with people I might otherwise lose touch with (though if I'm not very good at it even then). I also enjoy the fact I can meet and speak with people I'd otherwise never have had the opportunity to know. Communication technology has been great at breaking down distance barriers, while throwing up others right in front of us. I can't even begin to imagine what this is going to be like in another decade or two, when I expect people to have always on connections to whatever the internet looks like then, through augmented reality and the like.

~Jon


#7
Chronomaster

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Fortunately, people are capable of adapting to change almost as quickly as change seems to happen, though I wonder if 'exponential growth' continues, whether we'll be able to keep up the pace in the decades ahead? Soon we'll be so immersed and consumed in communication technology I don't think people will give a second thought to anyone of their 'contacts' knowing, 24/7, exactly where they are, what they are doing, and what they're thinking about it. Privacy is going to become a myth.
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#8
Nom du Clavier

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I found this interesting article on Twitter signaling a return to oral culture, as a response to NY Times' Bill Keller recent "#TwitterMakesYouStupid. discuss." social experiment.

The article in question raises a number of good points and links to plenty of research, well worth a read.

Anyhoo... I agree with Prolite & Caiman's pet peeve, but it's also easily solved by telling people to cut it out, walking away if they persist in ignoring you in favour of some ephemeral connection. Otherwise, what's the point of meeting face to face if you'd get a reaction from them more rapidly if you took out your phone in turn and tweeted them? It's a bit like the old phenomenon of LAN parties, where you go to meet up with people in person, then to sit behind a computer each and interact predominantly through a game, when in all likelihood the same game can be played over the internet too.

That's not my disparaging LAN parties, just my failing to see the point. It may very well be some transcendent experience for those involved that I'm failing to grasp. It did take me a while to come to grips with Twitter and see the usefulness. First I saw none and it looked ephemeral and shallow. Then I adopted it as an addition to the RSS feeds I already used to keep up on (mostly tech-related) news, still dipping in and scanning headlines to avoid information overload. Nowadays if I read something interesting by a columnist, for example, I can fire off a quick question or a terse response. Sometimes this will result in agreement, or pointing out of another interesting link to follow up, or even a short back and forth. All of this with having to have yet another account somewhere, or having to leave my email address on yet another website to leave a comment.

It's just a different mode of communication than we've been used to and it'll take some time for us to adapt. As Mike Masnick points out, we've gone from one-to-one (interpersonal, face to face) communication to one-to-many (broadcast), and now we're seeing many-to-many. It really does change things in a way that our youth is taking for granted (and ignoring us in real life in the process as they're constantly connected) and those in our 20's and 30's are learning to live with (as per my Twitter anecdote, which is not the singular of data), but which seems to have been lost on NY Times' Bill Keller, past his 30's as he is.

I think we'll end up "spending more time" with people we're interested in spending time with at the point in time in question, whether or not that is online of offline. That some people who are physically close to you may feel left out as a result because others have more interesting - again, at the time - things to say... I guess that's progress too. Maybe humanity in general will learn to be privy to more than just what goes around their immediate vicinity and be less boring in an effort to be engaging offline too. I sure know a few people who really have little to say I'm interested in, where apart from weather and current events, there's nothing to talk about. Conversely I know others (both offline as well as online) who keep up with a broad range of subjects, and we can talk for hours.

It's a bit of a toss up, really.
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#9
Random Guy

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Communication technology is pushing people apart. People can have "friends" and never really know who they are. A 75-year-old man can claim to be a 13-year-old girl. Face-to-face communication is becoming a thing of the past. (But I don't think it will ever completely fade out.)

#10
Caiman

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It's just a different mode of communication than we've been used to and it'll take some time for us to adapt. As Mike Masnick points out, we've gone from one-to-one (interpersonal, face to face) communication to one-to-many (broadcast), and now we're seeing many-to-many. It really does change things in a way that our youth is taking for granted (and ignoring us in real life in the process as they're constantly connected) and those in our 20's and 30's are learning to live with (as per my Twitter anecdote, which is not the singular of data), but which seems to have been lost on NY Times' Bill Keller, past his 30's as he is.

I'm going to borrow a quote by Douglas Adams from a post I made in another thread, which I think sits perfectly alongside this paragraph of yours;

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.


~Jon


#11
Nom du Clavier

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Communication technology is pushing people apart. People can have "friends" and never really know who they are. A 75-year-old man can claim to be a 13-year-old girl. Face-to-face communication is becoming a thing of the past. (But I don't think it will ever completely fade out.)



It's just a different mode of communication than we've been used to and it'll take some time for us to adapt. As Mike Masnick points out, we've gone from one-to-one (interpersonal, face to face) communication to one-to-many (broadcast), and now we're seeing many-to-many. It really does change things in a way that our youth is taking for granted (and ignoring us in real life in the process as they're constantly connected) and those in our 20's and 30's are learning to live with (as per my Twitter anecdote, which is not the singular of data), but which seems to have been lost on NY Times' Bill Keller, past his 30's as he is.

I'm going to borrow a quote by Douglas Adams from a post I made in another thread, which I think sits perfectly alongside this paragraph of yours;

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;
2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;
3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.


The way it looks is that we can only enter into a finite number of close connections, regardless of the medium. I wonder therefore if we should be blaming modern communication methods and call this a decline, or if the truth is that we're not less connected to people, some of the people we're close to just happen not to live around the corner.
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