Monday, November 26, 2012

Type 3 Disconnects - Your Choice

Type 3 disconnects are the good ones, when we choose to disconnect by our own free will.

The extent to which we have 'free will' varies depending our role(s) and the situation we are in.  While we all have some choice, we are all somewhat constrained in our choices. Before the Renaissance, it was believed that God determined what would happen to us, and the notion of free will was one of the big break-throughs of the Renaissance. The sociologist Anthony Giddens describes society as an enduring tension between individual agency and social structures, i.e., the norms and social conventions that constrain our free will. For more on actor agency as an attribute of connectivity, click here.

Featured recently in the New York Times was a private school in New England that has for years offered an off-line environment, meaning no cell phones and little or no Internet access to pupils.  In the past, this was an easy policy to enforce, but the Internet is coming to town (and country), so some kids are heading off to a corner of the property where they can get a cell signal. Other kids are opting out, saying they like being disconnected from the Net, so they can connect more with things and people around them. The question the school faces is whether to uphold their tradition of being an off-line sanctuary, become mainstream, or to offer their students a choice.  To connect or not connect, that is the question.  What would you or your kids do in this situation?

When I give lectures and talks on the subject of connectivity, I encourage people to keep their mobile phones 'on.'  It's not that I like distraction, but I figure people should make their own choices about when and how to connect.

Updated 9 June: Oliver Burkeman on 'slow computing,' 'the zen of tech,' etc. in the Guardian, 10 May 2103.

See Paolo Cardini's Ted Talk on 'Mono-tasking' (short and funny).

Or, my recent comments on taking your smart phone on (summer) holidays.

Update: 21 April 2013
Tony Schwartz writes on Harvard blog about how it feels to totally disconnect.

And, returning to Henry David Thoreau (from previous post), recall his choice of living at Walden Pond.

'I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.  I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.  I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness out of it and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience...'

No comments: