Mobile technologies are everywhere. Never have so many batteries been carried around by so many people. The centrepiece of the battery carrying revolution is certainly the mobile phone. It’s cousins, the smartphone, tablets and portable computers are variations on the deeper theme of the phone.
Of course many people rarely use their devices for voice. Their focus could be social networking, email or sms. it’s still about communication.
Some believe that that portable computers are an expression of our desire, as humans, to connect. The more “in touch” we feel with others, the more secure we feel. Perhaps it’s beyond security, perhaps it provides a psychological “reward” in itself. It has been said that the need for recognition by others is fundamental
Before personal electronic communication one could imagine that interactions with others could be more considered and thoughtful. Of course, history seems to indicate the opposite, with speech and written communications having a track record of misunderstanding and misadventure. Perhaps its the amount and rapidity of communication, resulting in things happening quicker. We lie in momentous times.
The devices bring more than connectedness and recognition, they bring information. Marilyn Hacker says “I’m addicted to email, but other than that, there are practical things – being able to buy a book on the internet that you can’t find in your local bookshop. This could be a lifeline if you live further from the sources.”
It’s not just books now. Connected devices give access to almost the entire sum of human knowledge in a fraction of a second. Doug Coupland says that “With Google I’m starting to burn out on knowing the answer to everything. People in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of being clueless.”
So what’s changed? The speed of communication and knowledge, the artefacts of thought. What will be the effect of this? Many believe at the rapidity and accessibility of these artefacts will accelerate thought itself, the rhythm of our lives and ultimately the pace of change in society.
Is it really possible to think quicker than most? To live at an accelerated pace? In my next post I’ll discuss a famous historical figure that seemed to do just that.