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Social Computing

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Some things write their own commentary.

A fairly large part of my work entails going to conferences, making presentations, and otherwise making appearances. It's ironic that someone as introverted as I am would wind up doing this sort of thing. This year, as in years past, I am attending the annual RSA Conference. This year's conference is in the heart of Silicon Valley, San Jose, California.

As a general rule, whenever I visit someplace, I like to spend the time living as close to a normal existence as possible. That generally means experiencing at least a few days' worth of life as a resident in ... wherever. Thus, on Monday, February 13, I found myself looking over the morning's San Jose Mercury News, which includes a section called “Calendar,” enumerating and summarizing the events of the coming week. Looking over that sort of thing in any locale helps me to get a sense for what's happening and where I will probably find things of interest.

In Silicon Valley, life is a little different from the rest of the world. Every town has its own character, largely defined by the dominant local industries. Some places are government towns. Some are built (so to speak) by manufacturing. Others are all about financial services. Some (like my own Columbus, Ohio) are a strange (though healthy, in my opinion) amalgam of lots of different industries complementing one another. In Silicon Valley, they don't use technology to support their industries; technology is their industry. It permeates life here in a way that one doesn't typically see elsewhere, as was painfully obvious by one of the event announcements I saw scheduled for Valentine's Day.

Social Computing Discussion. A panel discussion with representatives from LinkedIn, Six Apart, and Yahoo. 7 p.m. Feb. 14. Computer History Museum Hahn Auditorium, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View. $10. or (650) 810-1005.

Granted, there are reasons why someone might choose to forego the traditional Valentine's Day celebrations, such as wanting to distance oneself from certain undesirable rites of antiquity that are the foundation for the modern holiday; nevertheless, such persons are the exception. I don't know that I would ever have imagined the viability of a mainstream event on how people interact in a tech-heavy world on an evening when historically people have had something better to do, the kind of thing that, well, is best done without a computer around. If this is where things are going, we might well discover that the technology that humanity used to do itself in wasn't the atomic bomb, but the Internet.

Let's hope that the present condition is an intermediate step and what we'll get instead is technology that helps people find other people and stay connected instead.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-05-28 02:15 PM

Using technology to stay connected

Posted by abbyp at 2006-03-17 04:19 PM
It seems that the trend really is to use technology to stay connected. Reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project reveal that 52% of Internet users sent email on a typical day. Pew also reports that "Internet users ages 12 to 28 years old have embraced the online applications that enable communicative, creative, and social uses." I guess the Internet won't divide the world after all.
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