The title is ‘Digital Obesity’ and will be a panel discussion with Simon Jenkins of ShipOfFools, Gavin O’Carrol from the Digital Health Service and Vaux’s own Jenny Brown from the Awesome Web Co. In other words, it’s going to be fantastic.
I blogged a bit about the idea of Digital Obesity here and here and am convinced it’s an increasing problem: we just have far too much information coming in, far more than we can usefully use. So, just as excessive calorie intake doesn’t mean we have more energy and do more exercise, excessive information doesn’t end up with us doing more, or really even knowing more. We just get tired and bloated. And change channel. Again.
Another dimension I’ll be wanting to feed in on Weds is the alienating aspect of technology. I’ve just written a review of Nicolas Carr’s book The Shallows for Third Way, in which I write:
Carr summarises the co-evolution of our tools and ourselves when he writes that ‘when the carpenter takes his hammer into his hand, he can use that hand to do only what a hammer can do.’ While massively extending what we can do, ‘the price we pay to assume technology’s power is alienation.’
I think this is a fascinating insight. We are so very quick to extol the powers that technology gives us: the huge reach in communication, the massive increases in computational complexity, the ability to create new visual styles. But I think we have been very shy to admit the price that we have paid for these powers: the alienating effects of the tools we are using.
The parallels with diet are clear: our bodies have not had time to adjust to the huge changes in food consumption that we have experienced in the last 100 years. So we have got bigger and bigger. No one would want to return to the days of food scarcity, but we need to be open to the question of what unlimited consumption is doing to us.
In the same way, no one would sensibly suggest we abandon the digital tools that are now at our disposal. But what we absolutely must do is reflect more carefully on their use, and the fragmenting and alienating impact that these tools are going to have. And that’s exactly what Apple is about. So…you really should be there 😉
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