Journalist Interview Croatia No.1
st Journalist Interview:
1. What has so far changed in people’s relation towards technology? What have mobile phones and digital networks brought, respectively?
Social networks now allow one to communicate faster and get closer to one another, especially when seperated by great geographical distances. I think one of the major changes is the blurring of work and play. Workers browse Facebook at work, and may get texted by coworkers when they go home in the evening. I think there is an expectation to always be on, or at least, always be accessible. Checking one’s E-mail is addicting for some, and a great chore to respond to. There is a lot more information and tedium underneath all of the socialization.
We have become a push-button culture. When our technology works well, we have the mental capabilities of a superhuman. But when our technology fails, we cease to have those abilities. As a race that is becoming accustomed to always being able to search for something online, or always be able to connect to someone, having a piece of technology fail it a very difficult feeling. In addition, the longer one has a piece of technology, the more it turns against its owner.
Finally, technology has a lifetime that is much shorter than a humans. Whereas we get one brain that serves us for our entire lives, we can easily go through many external brains in just a few years. On the one hand, we are given tremendous powers. On the other hand, we are given a tremendous set of tasks to preform and devices to maintain.
2. Have digital networks really sucked in one’s physical social life and replaced it with a virtual one?
Absolutely not. Social networks are a placeholder and an extension of identity, similar to a virtual calling card. They function by reducing the time and space it takes for people to connect with one another. If anything, social networks have increased the real-life socialization between people by making it easier to re-connect with long lost loved ones or classmates, receive event invitations and phone numbers, to date and to schedule appointments.
One’s social identity is an extension of the analog self, not a replacement. It is an amplifier, not a destroyer. Saying that a digital network has replaced one’s physical self with a virtual one is like saying that the telephone forced us into little rooms and made us all antisocial. When the phone was invented, that was the major concern. People were sure that it was going to be the end of real-world communication. Guess what? People used the phone to communicate, just like the Internet is used for. People used the phone to get to know one another, and to schedule dinners and dates, business and vacations. They used it to connect to one another faster than book or letter or telegraph.
3. Critics claim new technologies are not good for the children; there are still those who promote a mere half an hour in front of one’s computer a day, computer addicts are going to treatments… What is your way of dealing with the skeptics?
4. You have created the geolocation app Geoloqi. It is the geolocation that is usually criticized by those who wish to protect their privacy. Can you comment on that, please?
Privacy is the ability not to be surprised. Geoloqi allows you to share your location privately with someone for a limited period of time. You choose when you want to share your location, and to whom. No one can see your location unless you send it to them, and when you are done sharing, your location expires and no one cann acceess it again.
Most social sites make privacy options very confusing and difficult. We made Geoloqi an application that is default private. Many social networks have settings that share everything by default. We are interested in building a network of mindful sharing. The application is enjoyed by cautious people because of this.
5. Can one talk about complete privacy with today’s technologies and all the gadgets and apps?
There is no such thing as complete privacy. Every piece of advertising you get in the mail is a sign of a hole in your privacy. These holes in privacy existed far before technology. If a robber wanted to rob you, he wouldn’t pay for a smartphone and follow you on Foursquare in order to rob you, he’d likely wait outside your house for you to go to work and then take the items.
There are many more security and privacy risks in real life compared to real life, but the web is new, and therefore it is easy to write about and stir up fear about. Also, many people are getting accustomed to the web. People are more likely to have their information sold online to companies than they are to have someone rob them or stalk them any more than someone would in real life.
6. Can today’s world ban technology and not get accustomed to it at all?
Absolutely not. Technology is intertwined into the majority of the world’s everyday lives. It’s not just what people use to communicate with each other, it governs global supply gains, stock markets and sattelites. It allows the millions of planes that fly every day to keep from running into each other. It helps us to predict disasters, preform surgery, and solve problems. To remove it would cripple the human population.
Technology is nothing new to humans. It is what makes us humans. When humans created the first tools they began externalizing evolution. These tools were an extension of the physical self, and now social networks are increasingly an extension of our mental selves. We’re completely intertwined mentally, socially, physically, and physiologically.
7. Which direction are people’s features and traits going in, especially the features and traits of people who have entrusted their way of promoting themselves and presenting their own personalities to social networks?
Social network profiles are now an extension of one’s personality and identity. It is the first step of people uploading part of themselves into a network of communication and interaction. However, people do not own their own identities. They are owned by social networking sites. Social networks are not permanent. When a social networking site fails, great migrations of profiles and identity will occur. A lot of people haven’t experienced a great identity migration. Many people feel that Facebook will last forever. The average half-life of a link online is 4.5 years before it dissappears and the original site goes away.
8. Technology is advancing at a fast pace; are we capable of following that development at all?
It is difficult for anyone to follow the development of any set of technological advancements unless they themselves are creating that advancement. Modern computer programmers are often aggravated by changes in a program or third-party integration. Working technology is composed of many small systems and groups of people and componenets. It is like trying to keep up with all of the books that are being written right now.
I think that the moment one purchases a phone, they are thinking of the choice they made. Was it the right one? Will the company coninute to produce good products? Will it support all of the things I need to do in my life? Will it break down quickly? Will I be able to understand it?
The time it takes to make technological decisions is increasing as technology increases in complexity. I think it has added a lot of thought onto people’s minds. Even joining a social network is a lifestyle choice now. It is not recreation, but a literally extension of one’s life.
9. Don’t you think that some generations are left out from the real cohabitation and that they are not coping well in real life? What about those people?
I don’t think technology is to blame. I think computer interfaces are to blame. For a long time now, computers have been made for engineers. Increasingly, we are seeing devices and systems that allow grandmothers and mothers to communicate across generations. Parents now play Angry Birds with their kids. Grandmothers can see their grandchildren over Skype, and they can see pictures on Facebook.
For a few decads there really hasn’t been a standard interface for people to identify with yet. Sites like Facebook are fulfilling this role for the moment. Today, it is not the trend that grandparents live in the same house as their children. Modern society is erasing the geographical closeness of family groups and friends. Technology is often the only way to erase that distance and reclaim closeness.
10. You have been voted the most influential woman in technology? Which particular influence can you attribute to yourself and which influence are you particularly proud of? And what is cyborg anthropology exactly?
I think what I’ve done is try to give people a new perspective on everyday life. The majority of the world owns a tiny computer, the cell phone, and carries it with them every day. Just ten years ago this wasn’t the case. Technology is advancing so quickly that it is difficult to not get caught up in the rush of it. For the majority of human history, we’ve created tools that help us extend our physical capabilities.
Computing technologies help extend our mental capabilities. The physical world has a size and shape, but the mental world does not. We’re watching our computers evaporate before our very eyes. Interfaces are melting into screens instead of buttons. Our lives are guided by technology. A good anthropologist can step back and try to understand how these rapid changes are affecting culture.
I’ll give you an example of how traditional anthropology differs from cyborg anthropology. In traditional anthropology, a researcher visits another country, says, "How fascinating these people are, how interesting their tools are, how curious their culture is," and then they write a paper, and maybe a few other anthropologists read it, and we think it's very exotic. Well, what's happening is that with the increase in our use of technology, we've suddenly become a new species; a new form of homo sapiens. And now cyborg anthropologists like me can step back from the modern world and look at this new species and how it is rapidly changing and forming culture. We can now look at these curious rituals that everybody's doing around this technology, such as the idea of people clicking on things and staring at screens and having one's value defined by the extension of one's self into quite literally another dimension. The cyborg anthropologist studies the world around us. The world mediated by these new interactions between humans and machines.
11. In your opinion, what will the development of the society as a whole look like in five, that is, twenty years’ time?
There is no way to predict precisely what changes will happen over the next few years and the next decade, especially. My trick for estimating a likely future is to go back 30-40 years to see what was in the emerging stages of research. Steve Mann’s heads up display and augmented/diminished reality visor are things that are still on the horizon for everyday use. Thad Starner and Steve Mann both used an innovative one-handed key chording device called the Twiddler that allowed them to effectively type at rates of up to 60 wpm while they walked down the street. Mann was able to recognize objects in the real world and block them out. He was able to connect with anyone, anywhere, without removing himself from the real world.
The real world element is the most important. The future is in calm technology. Calm technology was a term invented by Mark Wieser of PARC research in the 70’s and 80’s to describe. He wrote that the best technology is invisible. it gets out of the way and lets people live their lives. The best technology helps people solve real-world problems, and that the best technology provides relaxation.
Weiser pointed out that future technologies would reduce in size and increase in power. Already we have devices that are larger on the inside than they are on the outside. The improvement lies in interface design. In the future the design of interfaces will be a very essential career to have. User experience design, interaction design, information architecture and service design. These are becoming increasingly important careers today.