Watching the film The Social Networking

Entry 17: 16.10.2010

Watching the film The Social Networking tonight, combined with our first class on Social Computing, conviviality and digital cities with Patricia Caire, has encouraged further thoughts about the subject, how new technology, media and GPS may help us in living more meaningful lives together in our physical reality. This idea may be illustrated with this example.

As I’m waiting for my spouse to come back from the ladies room, I stand in the hall of Utopolis, the movie complex and watch many people passing, waiting and talking to each other. As I see some possible familiar faces, and being of a curious nature, I decide to take out my new mobile device to identify some of the faces and get the names of some of the people, as they are connected to an application similar to google maps, linked to an application like facebook. I do a search for people in that area in Utopolis that have an interest in social change and I identify two people that have in their status: available for discussion. Great! I direct myself to one of them and introduce myself and start talking to them.

Of course I can ask myself: was this activity more meaningful. Other options were available to me for the few minutes that I was waiting for my spouse to come back from the ladies room. I could have just waited for her and let my thoughts run loose (e.g. worry about finishing my MA thesis), close my eyes, meditate and control my breathing, call a friend on the mobile, check my mail and facebook, share my comments on a blog, or just talk to someone passing by. What seems clear is that new social media and technology, opens up new ways to communicate with those around us.

It also hit me for the first time how social digital networking allows us to be present simultaneously in several places. While we were watching the movie, it is quite possible someone else is looking at our blog or twitter, reading our interest in a particular topic on a group page, listening to a video we posted on youtube or vimeo, in short, communicating with us. When we get back home, we may decide to look what activity has taken place, who has been talking to our virtual self or avatar, the person we have decided to be online. Has our existence becoming more meaningful? Do we now live life fuller (towards the ad: living life to the max)? We certainly seem to be present virtually in a few places. Are we in any way fulfilling more our given potential in life? We are certainly more connected to others and those around us that we wish and decide to be. These notes only highlight some possibilities open to us, from a positive perspective.

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