I'm not sure if this is the best place to post this...

 

Today, on my way home from an appointment I was listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR (National Public Radio).  I was very interested in the topic of the day which was a book by William Powers called Hamlet’s Blackberry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age .  You can listen to the show here.

Taken off of the Amazon product information page:

From Publishers Weekly

Our discombobulated Internet Age could learn important new tricks from some very old thinkers, according to this incisive critique of online life and its discontents. Journalist Powers bemoans the reigning dogma of digital maximalism that requires us to divide our attention between ever more e-mails, text messages, cellphone calls, video streams, and blinking banners, resulting, he argues, in lowered productivity and a distracted life devoid of meaning and depth. In a nifty and refreshing turn, he looks to ideas of the past for remedies to this hyper-modern predicament: to Plato, who analyzed the transition from the ancient technology of talking to the cutting-edge gadgetry of written scrolls; to Shakespeare, who gave Hamlet the latest in Elizabethan information apps, an erasable notebook; to Thoreau, who carved out solitary spaces amid the press of telegraphs and railroads. The author sometimes lapses into mysticism—In solitude we meet not just ourselves but all other selves—and his solutions, like the weekend-long Internet Sabbaths he and his wife decreed for their family, are small-bore. But Powers deftly blends an appreciation of the advantages of information technology and a shrewd assessment of its pitfalls into a compelling call to disconnect. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

This synopsis from Publishers Weekly fails to relate an important point of Powers’ book I think.  Powers is not technology bashing or saying that everyone needs to disconnect but rather that we need to evaluate how our many ways of staying connected (cell phones, smart phones, email, Facebook, Twitter, etc) are beneficial and detrimental thereby making it possible to consciously decide how much is enough and maintain a balance in our lives. (This is the opinion I formed from listening to the broadcast, not reading the book.)

As someone who is always seeking balance in my life, Powers’ message resonated with me.  I think he would agree with me that there is no formula for a healthy use of communication technology.  Instead, everyone has to judge what works best for them.  The important thing is to be aware of how your connectedness affects you.  In the interview Powers talks about his own families decision to disconnect from computers every weekend and how that has benefited their relationships.

I’m interested to hear others’ thoughts about this subject.  Do you feel overwhelmed sometimes and feel the need to disconnect?  Do you find yourself spending less time face to face with friends & family so that you can connect digitally? Or do you see only an upside to these communication aids?

 

Tags: Blackberry, Diane, Hamlet's, Powers, Rehm, Show, William, communication, connected, networking, More…social, staying, technology

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Only an upside. First off yes, it's wonderful it allows us to communicate like we are now, and discuss issues and concerns that mainstream media no longer concerns itself with.
Also an upside on the more negative aspects of such a culture. It allows our selves to look at ourselves and take a look at what sort of animal we have become. We believe in Evolution on A/N, just what sort of animal do you think we should be? What part has social networking now have to play in evolution. For as we are proving or is proven one would say, the evolution of the Human mind is what drives us forward now even if the biological imperative is our prime drive, to express ourselves as ourselves comes a close second.
I can only speak for myself, but yes, I have to really dissconnect sometimes. I was on facebook for a few months and gave it up. I'm very much a loner though and need considerable more space than most people (This says it all: http://open.salon.com/blog/travis_darby/2009/03/18/alone_but_not_lo...). I more comfortable connecting online or in print than face-to-face. I was like this long before the internet and cell phones. Frankly, people and social gathering of more than a few people stress me out and I need days to recover. So, I like being connected, but not too much and I when feel the need to step away from it, I don't replace it with upclose and personal contact. I simply spend some alone time reading, fishing, etc. I tend to think that the problem isn't people not being able to connect with real people in real time but more that people are afraid to be alone and spend time with themselves. Silence can be very scary for some but I think the reward is huge. We gather and trade a lot of information but how much are we truly processing? How much are we creating?
The difference is we can chose what time we seek information and how we seek it, the basics of any tool making/utilising society. The notion that we now sit in a certain place at a certain time to recieve certain informations is out of the window.
Does it open us up to informations about each other we'd rather not know.
I feel that much of what you call information overload is B/S overload. Do we really think that which ever our whatever hollywood star is fucking whatever hollywood star really matter with the ecological disaster as being played out in the Mexican Gulf.
You say 'time alone' and I totally agree, but what I would say thjta it is inm part an introspection, but you don't have to seek out information until you want it or need it. A huge difference to having to sit dowm and watch the latest 'news' and or soap opera designated times, a shared vicarious experience. can laed to mass hysteria.
Which of course they do with certain cyclical reliogous hysterias, so to attempt to read a sub-text into your proposition are we in danger of creating such an overload that we don't know what to do witrh it and create some sort of opposing hysteria.
You do have a point.
Are we losing ourselves in some homegeousness whole, like I say it's now a matter of choice not regimentation how much you seek or require is your choice.
The difference is we can chose what time we seek information and how we seek it

Yes exactly! I think the point that Powers was trying to make, and I agree, is that many people get caught up thinking that they have to take in all this abundance of information because it is available and they end up getting overwhelmed.
I caught part of that segment this morning. Personally I'm on social networking overload. Facebook and Twitter and AtheistNexus oh my! I often don’t know if I’m coming or going… but apparently if I post my status in all the right places my “friends” will. I imagine some people thrive on all of this? Me not so much. Okay, I’m climbing back under my rock now. Oops, almost forgot to update my status: “Tex is now back under his rock.”

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