Conversation, Connection, Communication, Rudeness, Isolation, Etiquette and Technology

This is probably more than one post, but all of the thoughts came at the same time and they kind of fit together so here they are as a single stream:

I have a rule, if I’m in a conversation with someone and they start to look at their mobile device or laptop I stop talking. I used to just sit there until the person came back, but after a couple of occasions where I’ve sat for a few minutes waiting for the person to come back I’ve modified my behaviour and I now leave. I give them a little while to come back, but if they have clearly left the conversation I will leave too.

Castle Stalker BayPreviously I’ve written about being In the same room, but not together when observing the interactions in my own family. At this year’s TED Sherry Turkle gave a talk on Connected, but alone? She has some very interesting, and worrying, things to say about our relationship with our devices:

Our little devices are so psychologically powerful that they don’t only change what we do, they change who we are.

She makes a much better job than I did of explaining the worry that I was expressing in my post Post 1000: Thinking about thinking, the brain and information addiction.

She goes on to say when talking about the way that we flit between being present and being somewhere else:

Across the generations I see that people can’t get enough of each other if, and only if, they can have each other at a distance in amounts they can control. I call it the goldilocks effect – not too close, not too far, just right.

In other words – we are desperate to connect but we want to do it on our own terms and in a way that provides immediate gratification.

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

If you watch the recent Project Glass video posted by Google you’ll notice many of these same characteristics in the interactions that they envisage. Notice how long it is before the person wearing the glasses interacts with a real person and how many opportunities he had to interact that were replaced by technology.

Project Glass: One day…