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Post Reply Anyone else feeling alienated by technology?
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28 / F / The margins
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Posted 1/9/17

ninjitsuko wrote:

I can't actually say that I've felt alienated by technology. I feel that some of the things we use technology for seems to be counter-productive. Similar to your e-book issue, I've learned that academic-based novels or textbooks with an e-book form tend to have additional insight (like you mentioned: "how long it'll take to read", "various facts/data", etc..). Some people actually utilize these features quite well. Others, well, because they use them in a rather obnoxious way - they don't feel as intuitive.

I once had a student that turned in a digital essay that utilized these features. It was pretty interesting when they had written an essay about whether or not English should remain the "international language" for business ... where they would utilize the additional content sliders to show graphs, statistics, sources, and other helpful bits. Essentially, they used these newer features and utilized them in a way that allowed to make for an easier read. That's intuitive and felt that it was done in a way that helped the reader.

As for technology as a whole, I'm one of the few that "grew up" with technology. As I grew older, I was right next to technology. A new technology came out? I had it or had access to it. I guess because it feels so natural to me that it doesn't alienate me in any way. It's more so when there are those who know about such technology and utilize it just because it "seems cool" without thinking about the impact it'll have on others around them (more so in writing and academia than other fields).


I tend to be a couple years behind everyone else when it comes to things like technology - and even games, movies, and music. What I do in my job (theoretical physics research) doesn't require much more than some writing utensils, notebooks, and a computer (for programming and Mathematica), and in my spare time I read old books and volunteer in the community - and watch anime. So technology comes to me slowly.

I should clarify, though, since other people seem to be thinking the same thing: I don't actually think technology is bad, nor do I even think that the various Kindle app features I described are bad. That it automatically gives me a list of all the relevant concepts in a textbook is really useful. What I want to discuss is how that is different: Instead of having a physical, isolated book that relates just to me and that I hold in my hands, suddenly there's all this extra content - baggage? - that comes between me and the book. And it's intrusive, disorienting content: I no longer feel a linear progression to reading, because progress is no longer correlated to the number of physical pieces of paper I've read; I can automatically jump between sections by pressing links, making it feel strange to keep track of where I am; the judgment and opinions of the world appear in the form of ratings, summaries, and lists of what's "important." The book is much more unfamiliar in this form. Perhaps it's better to say that it feels stifling, but I also feel alienated from the content of the book itself - as well as from the simple act of reading.

I recently sold several pieces of furniture online through a Facebook group, and people kept asking me if they could pay me with Venmo. "What's a Venmo?" I thought, assuming it was probably some payment app. The existence of a third option - neither cash nor check - confused me. It makes perfect sense, but it changed my expectations of the world - and the world's expectations of me. I don't get paid physically immediately, and even receiving the notification that I got paid took some time after I sold my items. But it has all the advantages of electronic payments.

I'm confident enough that I can usually figure out things much more complicated than a payment app on my own, but still: transitioning between different paradigms of interfacing with the world is disorienting. There's a lot more to it than just being good or bad.
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Posted 1/9/17 , edited 1/9/17

auroraloose wrote:

I'm about to move halfway across the world, so I bought a bunch of e-books to replace the physical copies I own so I don't have to ship them with me. And e-books are weird: you can tap the chapter links and immediately jump to that chapter; you open them and you can't even tell whether you're on the first page; Amazon's Kindle app will "helpfully" tell you what the book is about, how it's rated, and even the average amount of time it takes to read the book (which, by the way, has zero meaning for a monograph on mathematical physics).

I'm aware e-books - and hence these feelings - have been around for a while, but I'm only now experiencing them myself. I like to think about things like this, so I was somewhat surprised that something as simple and readily available as e-books had escaped my notice in this regard. I'm not saying technology is bad, of course; I'm just saying it does weird things to us. Anyone else experience something similar recently?



I feel the same way. I went to my parents' house last Thanksgiving, and they were halfway into a renovation - new appliances. I opened the fridge, and apparently the door was open for "too long" and it proceeded to beep, and the screen on it said the door has been open for too long. I shut it to stop the beeping and it wouldn't open for a while - the screen on the door indicated that it was trying to bring the inside temperature back to it's ideal state, so the door would be locked until it's regulated.

Their dishwasher did the same thing. I tried to load it once with some pots and pans, and it said it wasn't the weight of the "Glasses Only" setting, so it wouldn't start.

Don't get me started on the stove. I felt like a cavewoman in the kitchen. I was so embarrassed, not knowing how to work (what are supposed to be) simple appliances.

Ironically, they can't seem to wrap their heads around their phones, tablets and computers, so I'm the one helping them tinker with those. I just don't understand why they would choose to get such complicated household appliances.
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28 / F / The margins
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Posted 1/9/17

1stladyent wrote:


auroraloose wrote:

I'm about to move halfway across the world, so I bought a bunch of e-books to replace the physical copies I own so I don't have to ship them with me. And e-books are weird: you can tap the chapter links and immediately jump to that chapter; you open them and you can't even tell whether you're on the first page; Amazon's Kindle app will "helpfully" tell you what the book is about, how it's rated, and even the average amount of time it takes to read the book (which, by the way, has zero meaning for a monograph on mathematical physics).

I'm aware e-books - and hence these feelings - have been around for a while, but I'm only now experiencing them myself. I like to think about things like this, so I was somewhat surprised that something as simple and readily available as e-books had escaped my notice in this regard. I'm not saying technology is bad, of course; I'm just saying it does weird things to us. Anyone else experience something similar recently?



I feel the same way. I went to my parents' house last Thanksgiving, and they were halfway into a renovation - new appliances. I opened the fridge, and apparently the door was open for "too long" and it proceeded to beep, and the screen on it said the door has been open for too long. I shut it to stop the beeping and it wouldn't open for a while - the screen on the door indicated that it was trying to bring the inside temperature back to it's ideal state, so the door would be locked until it's regulated.

Their dishwasher did the same thing. I tried to load it once with some pots and pans, and it said it wasn't the weight of the "Glasses Only" setting, so it wouldn't start.

Don't get me started on the stove. I felt like a cavewoman in the kitchen. I was so embarrassed, not knowing how to work (what are supposed to be) simple appliances.

Ironically, they can't seem to wrap their heads around their phones, tablets and computers, so I'm the one helping them tinker with those. I just don't understand why they would choose to get such complicated household appliances.


Whoa - appliances that get mad at you? I don't want to have to worry about offending my dishwasher.
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Posted 1/9/17
I feel like technology is alienating itself.
reinux 
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Posted 1/9/17
I'm a software developer, and I just bought an ebook reader, and yeah, I know what you mean. I think we'll get used to it, but man, it's a weird feeling.
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Posted 1/10/17

auroraloose wrote:

I'm about to move halfway across the world, so I bought a bunch of e-books to replace the physical copies I own so I don't have to ship them with me. And e-books are weird: you can tap the chapter links and immediately jump to that chapter; you open them and you can't even tell whether you're on the first page; Amazon's Kindle app will "helpfully" tell you what the book is about, how it's rated, and even the average amount of time it takes to read the book (which, by the way, has zero meaning for a monograph on mathematical physics).

I'm aware e-books - and hence these feelings - have been around for a while, but I'm only now experiencing them myself. I like to think about things like this, so I was somewhat surprised that something as simple and readily available as e-books had escaped my notice in this regard. I'm not saying technology is bad, of course; I'm just saying it does weird things to us. Anyone else experience something similar recently?



The truth is that technology is being forced in a direction that shouldn't be necessary because of something called "intellectual property". As the internet gives access to all and information in the form of bits of data is easily replicated and/or reproduced, "intellectual property" is very hard to control, especially with books. Companies that sell books, movies and other art will not make money if everyone can just copy their books (allegedly).

Frankly, the programs that can access books should be much better but due to the need by reader programs to control content, you get a terrible interface. You'll notice in the kindle program even puts quotation information if you try to copy and paste as a defense mechanism against plagiarism (and copying).

Sorry, I'm tired right now, I don't know if I'm actually explaining this well but I hope I gave it some context.

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