Danah Boyd sure knows how to write. She also has one of the most accessible understandings of the online sphere that I’ve ever read. Below are quotes from her article “Participating in the always-on lifestyle” (citation can be found in references) that I wish to respond to in some way, shape or form.
“Because of technology, the online is always just around the corner”
“It’s no longer about on or off really. It’s about living in a world where being networked to people and information wherever and whenever you need it is just assumed”
“My always-on-ness doesn’t mean that I’m always-accesible-to-everyone”
Danah sums up the techno-anxious state that could safely be assumed about those of us who are always-on. Regardless of where I am, there is some piece of technology around me that connects me to the online. Even so, while I might be totally unreachable, traces of my personality, pictures of me, my writing, can be found and consumed. I wonder who I do this for. Danah notes that most write for an audience (small as it may be), yet I’m not so sure I have an audience other than myself. At least not yet. So am I writing for writing’s sake? The answer could be yes, but I don’t write personal notes. I write for an audience. Whether it exists or not.
“Different social contexts mean different relationships to being always on… All channels are accessible, but it doesn’t mean I will access them”
“It’s not just about instant gratification either… what I want is to bring people and information into context. It’s about enhancing the experience”
“It’s about enhancing the experience”. Sure, it does ruin pub banter. No longer can your know it all mate claim an outrageous fact about Lebron James slapping him a high five in a Las Vegas club which the paparazzi snapped up with applause. You just search it. But then it becomes a matter of balance. No phones at the dinner table for example. These sorts of techniques in differing contexts are essential.
“Always on folks are more interested in an augmented reality”
“Technology doesn’t simply break social conventions – it introduces new possibilities for them”
“Aren’t we moving away from an industrial economy into an information one?”
“When people assume you share everything, they don’t ask you about what you don’t share”
We really can share ourselves online. Linked through a variety of mediums, we can share in a way that isn’t possible face to face. We can speak about love, our dislikes, our problems (dare I say it), and no one has to hear them. Or, should they want to, a friend, a lover, an enemy can read these and gain access to our lives that one wouldn’t dare ask for.