the future

I’ve seen the future in Singapore, and I have basically stopped using the social media.

This is a good observation of where technology mediated human interactions are going. I wouldn’t say what is observed by the author is limited to Singapore, but it’s still a good example.

I’m not going to tweet it, because then I wouldn’t be able to comment on it. Such a massive shortcoming of twitter (wow what happened to Branch?). I don’t agree that conversations should be limited to 140 characters. What idiocy. As a software designer, one of the barriers I constantly run into (and attempt to circumvent) is implementation model design. Designing a system because there are engineering limitations to the design, or worse: engineering setting the direction of the design. Twitter is limited to 140 characters because the underlying technology (SMS) is limited to 140 characters. Think about that for a few seconds…time’s up.

We’re living in the time where platforms for human interaction have been developed by technologists. Ask an engineer how they would solve a human communication problem and they start writing code.

The article reminded me of the issue that arises when I’m suffering in beautiful places, a passion of mine. Climbing or skiing or running. The surroundings are sublime. So why should I pause to take a picture? Who is the picture for? Does the picture capture the moment? Almost never. An image is only a weak representation of the experience. A copy of a copy. Inadequate in my opinion. Oftentimes the picture is meant to broadcast the signal that “I was here and did this thing, had this experience, and you were not”. Sad you. #fomo. I abhor stopping to take pictures as it interrupts the flow of whatever I’m doing at the time.

I was at a conference years ago and one of the speakers (a very popular speaker on the circuit  [the intelligentsia]) was speaking about her use of social media, specifically Twitter. And she said that every tweet is carefully curated to establish her online persona. I was shocked at the time to consider that someone would only choose to broadcast information that furthered the construction of a persona that may or may not be real. This was naiveté on my part (5 years ago). It’s only lately that I’ve learned to embrace my maladroit social habits as a way to make the pretentious uncomfortable. I’m just having fun.

A parallel to this same concept is that when I meet people in person who have LARGE social media presences, it is oftentimes an enormous letdown to learn that in the flesh they are really not very interesting. In fact, they are the antithesis of someone you would invite to join you for coffee. You say captain of industry,  I say one dimensional.

And throughout all of this advancement of technology and mediated social interactions, exists the divide between the rich and the poor. White collar workers have Linkedin, where they can carefully curate their professional reputations, laborers and service workers have Angie’s list, where they can be reviewed by said white collar office drones.

Consider an article in the Economist from a few days ago, The wolves of the web. There is a quote in the article by Robert Reich where he points to the “secession of the successful” and notes the difference of the past where the monied moved from the city to the suburbs, in this case, techies want the benefits of the city and are “seceding in plain sight” by buying up and gentrifying “whole urban districts”.

Success will allow you to buy gluten-free, free-range organic [X], but it also allows you to check out if you like. Poor people will not have that option. It strikes me as eerily similar to the food deserts that exist in the deep south of the U.S. There is a KFC or McDonald’s on every corner and a dearth of organic brussel sprouts. There is useless information being generated and consumed at a record pace, but well-written, well thought-out ideas are quite rare.

Being unplugged will be reserved for those who can afford it.


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