Adam Greenfield, author of the book Radical Technologies that I quoted recently, was
interviewed on the Hurry Slowly podcast.
The conversation retread familiar terrain from the book, but it's always worth
a reminder. The episode focused mainly on the sociology of the smartphone,
and I found two parts particularly interesting:
- The idea that we're losing some of the "thinginess" of the world by allowing
so many of our interactions to be intermediated by abstract bits floating around
a noncorporeal network. We used to carry so many things in our pockets: credit cards,
photos of loved ones, access cards for buildings or public transit. Many of the artifacts
we used for navigating the world have been replaced by a homogeneous set of gestures
performed on the same screen. We read the news and check the stocks on the same device that
we find love and hail a cab. Everything is taking on a bland sameness.
- The way we live is being shaped by a tiny group of homogeneous people in a handful of nonrepresentative places.
Our new "normal" is being defined by young knowledge workers in Western tech hubs who assume that everyone needs things like constant
calendar notifications, email in their pocket, news alerts, etc. It's getting hard to remember a time before
those things were normal — it's now sort of assumed that everyone should run their lives like a Silicon Valley designer
Fascinating, and worth a listen.