Reading Blog 19 – November 16, 2015

“Nomadicity ” (p. 207-214) by Todd Gitlin from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

In today’s reading, Todd Gitlin makes a case about technology and nomadicity. According to Gitlin, nomadically “means that wherever and whenever we move around, the underlying system always knows who we are, where we are, and what services we need” (209). In this day and age, technology is increasingly getting smaller and more accessible. People value the “portability and miniaturization” of technology, because it gives users certain liberties. Gitlin argues that this has applied to all forms of technology throughout the years, from fanny packs to Sony Walkmans. Technology evolves into something smaller, more attainable, and more lightweight. Though this portability may seem like an advantage to this technology-reliant age, Gitlin states some interesting concerns with this concept. First of all, the nomadicity of technology keeps people in constant radio contact. Gitlin argues that this is an ironic concept, because portable technology allows you to travel alone with your device, yet you’re still interacting with your circle of friends. And if you’re not directly communicating with them, you’re still immersed in them – their music, photos, videos, among other things. Gitlin argues that this constant connectivity is an invasion of solitude, and that people in the technology age are never truly alone anymore. Along with the invasion of solitude, people are also subject to an invasion of surveillance when they use portable technology. With nomadic technology, people are able to see or overhear everything that’s going on in your life. Not only that, but other institutions are perfectly capable of plugging into your phone conversations, or digging up your social media history. So, even though people think that their gaining more power by having portable devices, Gitlin argues that there’s no power to that at all. If anything, people are more subject to invasions of their personal lives.

Links:

  1. “No Exit” – http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/03/jacob_silverman_s_terms_of_service_and_opting_in_to_social_media.html
  2. “Wireless Technology changing work and play” – http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/10/17/wireless.overview/index.html?iref=allsearch
  3. “The Human Connection in a Digital World” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-chan/the-human-connection-in-a-digital-world_b_4855478.html

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does constant connection through wireless technology say about American culture? Do we really value solitude?
  2. Does wireless technology foster true connection, or is it all just useless information that confirms our existence?
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