“Our focus should not be on emerging technologies but on emerging cultural practices.”
Henry Jenkins, Prof of Comparative Media at MIT
Basically that for all Facebook, Google, Wikipedia, Twitter, are doing right now, what’s interesting is not how clever, revolutionary and ground-breaking these technologies are in themselves, but how much they change us and how we interact.
Do you know that if you give a laptop to toddlers nowadays they instinctively poke at the screen? They’ve grown up with touch-screen technology.
If you ring a doorbell, do you press it with your index finger or your thumb? Apparently, baby boomers for index finger; Generation Y goes for thumb, used for texting and typing. (Or maybe we’ve all learnt from International Drinking Rules not to point….)
I remember being fascinated years ago on a finding that if two of you are walking down the street, one talking on a mobile, you unconsciously move in to protect your partner. While they’re chatting, you’re subconsciously steering them round street lights and stopping them bumping into people. Like a modern day version of the man keeping his sword hand free to protect his lady.
And, with all the buzz around ‘social media’, it’s worth noting the Internet has always been social. From AOL chat rooms to MSN messenger to forums and notice-boards, we’ve all grown up with online communities. If anything, Facebook is a step backwards to people we’ve (usually) met in real life.
So the question is not only how people get changed by technology, but how people change the technology itself.