For a generation that is at a loss without constant connection and relies on technology to keep that connection, it’s no wonder that designers dedicate careers to the connection between humans and objects and constantly consider new ways to further that connection and keep the relationship exciting.
The Berg design group, based in London, has been a leader in experimenting with humanizing technology, according to the New York Times article, “Technology’s Human Potential,” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/arts/design/design-firm-seeks-to-humanize-technology.html?ref=design. The group, which is featured in the exhibition “Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects” at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has designed new technology like digital toys, a website that “animates historic events by illustrating their effect on satellite maps of familiar areas,” and is even proposing a program that would print custom messages onto receipts. But this article got me thinking about the effects of this constant increase in technology and whether or not our increasing obsession and reliance on material objects is really that productive.
I know there are positives to technolgoy. Our advancements have enabled people to learn about anything and everything with just a few Google searches, and it’s near impossible to not remain connected to friends and family no matter what your situation is. However, there are negatives. Some that I often think about are how texting and phone calls distract us from our conversations with people physically sitting in front of us and how the ability to learn about anything and everything has heightened the standards for students to the point that they suffer under the pressure and take drugs like Adderall to get through it.
I want to say that I think designers of new technology are incredibly creative, innovative and inventive, but reading about the kind of work they do really gets me thinking about the implications of all this stimulation we’re constantly bombarded with. I think a good example to demostrate how technology has effected society is the Inuit people in Alaska. They hunt and spend a lot of time drinking tea. Sometimes two people sit and drink tea together, and for the course of two hours, maybe only 10 or 20 minutes were spent in conversation. The people know how to be comfortable around other people. For them, there doesn’t need to be constant stimulation, but I feel like “advanced” society has gotten to the point that it needs that stimulation to feel happy. I just really wonder if we suffer from depression or extreme lows when we don’t have that stimulation instead of just feeling content to be drinking tea with someone. Is our technology more important that our human connections? I know we use technology to hold onto our human connections, but is it the conversations we have when we text that make us happy or is it the excitement of hearing that bell making us happy?