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Lydia White (F, 36)
Brooklyn, NY, US
Immortal since Feb 25, 2010
Uplinks: 0, Generation 3

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the intersection of culture, time, art, and science
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    Desolation Tour 2010
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    As a web designer (or whatever we're called these days), I often feel lucky that when I was a young teenager I picked a career that has offered me many opportunities. I feel like the internet and I came of age at the same time, and that we grew up- mistakes and all- together. Now that I'm an adult, and the internet is a place nearly everyone has come to rely on in some way (yes, even my grandparents) I think a lot about where we're going and if it's headed in a better and more meaningful direction.

    It's no secret that in the age of constant stream updates and information overload, we're all becoming a little more ADD. Some people have even suggested our brains are actually being rewired because of the way we consume information. As I type this I have at least 20 tabs open, I'm in the middle of reading several articles, I have 5 halfway finished books sitting on my nightstand, and I'm also editing photos and writing another blog post. This is how I work and likely how many other people work. Now that I've had a smartphone for a year it has become even worse. When I'm out living life I feel compelled to check my streams for updates. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain present and focused. I feel anxiety or fear that I'm missing out on something if I don't check in, but 90% of the time it's a bunch of meaningless noise.

    Witnessing the death of the traditional music and publishing industry has been liberating in many ways (recognition and success is more democratic than ever), but it is also alarming because I worry about the sustainability of the future workforce given the exponential increases in technology. Generations before mine are becoming largely expendable because they can't keep up with the technology that is intuitive to my generation. Of course this has always been the case in post-industrialized societies, but never before has technology been changing so rapidly. At what point does a developer decide he's had enough and he doesn't want to learn a new programming language every year? How long until our generation becomes disposable or replaced by another country's workforce?

    Of course, there are a lot of people pushing back on the tidal wave of more but less. The Long Now Foundation seeks to foster long-term thinking. Slow Food challenges the processed fast food industry. In general there are many people working to make quality things by hand, the "slow" way.



    How, as a designer for things on screens, can we create things that are meaningful and that matter? In this landscape of noise and change, how can we increase our signal to noise ratio, as I suggested in my first post. When most of our projects have a lifespan of less than a year, and most social networks peak for under five?

    I don't know. It's what makes me question our direction every day. But I do have some clues.

    Sites that have been "meaningful" to me, and that have actually changed the world possess either some or all of these qualities:

  • It is fun and easy to share original content or information to a community that is responsive

  • Your friends/family are there and they are active

  • The more you invest and share, the harder it is to leave

  • They have your data- that you've taken the time to enter

  • You can discover like-minded people or new things

  • There is a self-promotion aspect which motivates you to share

  • What meaningful long-term value do sites with these qualities possess (livejournal, flickr, facebook, google, youtube, etc)? Well, in terms of longevity of influence, thus far, not much. But the influence over short periods of time has the potential to be massive: Facebook isn't blocked in China for nothing. On a smaller scale I think sites like flickr help individuals grow as creatives and occasionally life trajectories are thrown completely into a new course after using the site.

    Still, I can't shake the feeling that it's all a bit in vain. When I think about a beautiful old building, and how many people have stepped inside of it over centuries of passing time, the social network that was popular for five years just seems so silly. Everything on the internet seems silly after five years. How can we make something that is truly important?



    Thu, Nov 4, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Time, sharing, internet, community
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