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The Pacifier

September 6, 2010 by staff 

The Pacifier, Smart phones are not our pacifier only technology – computers and tablets are too. In a similar study to the follow-up of smartphones, we’ve followed notebook, netbook and MID use. In these cases the average time people are on these devices is less than four minutes per session. People are getting opportunistically in these devices to check the status of your world, whether it moves in a game of scrabble, control over flight plans for the holidays or facebooking. People have access to these technologies from the moment you wake up in the morning to falling asleep at night, sometimes falling asleep with the devices. Yes, people over long periods of time, but are drawn back to technology, even for quick use to re-center and check on friends.

Nobody can deny that we are in a time of rapid technological and cultural change that is transforming our lives. Seven years ago, smart phones, iPads, 3D TV and lights were not in our lives, not to mention social networks like Twitter and Facebook. These allow changes in the way we relate to each other and the rhythms of our lives. But the changes are normal. As we know from anthropological studies now and in the past, the technology does not change us, is what we do with it – they are agents of change. I saw a recent tweet that captures this idea. Terrisenft (27/07/2010 19:27): “It is all because of Twitter that have a short life, and that attention is no fault of your closet you do not have running shoes.” In fact, the technology offers an opportunity to change, but really for us to decide what to do with it does not act on us.

Ken Anderson, a symbolic anthropologist, has been a leader in innovative research of individuals and their practices and transforms this knowledge into corporate strategy. Is currently working on Intel’s strategy for the next ten years.
Our plans have been interrupted or changed by others, and develop actions placed to cope.

I’m doing what many people in the cafeteria are doing – drinking an Americano and transport of my technology. I read the New York Times on my phone, updated my Twitter feed, I checked my email, and of course take some notes on what people in the coffee house are doing (because I am an anthropologist and that what do). I feel at peace with my situation because I have what I call my “pacifier” with me, but others might simply call it “technology.”

What I experienced is something we have seen in our research with people around the world – “the time of plastic.” Plastic is the time of the temporality of modern times, is a temporary uncertainty. We tend to get broken (you have had a spouse or children ask you to do something while you’re watching TV?), to change what we are doing to prevent others (like my sitting here in this cafe now) or have face time extensions (extra long wait to see your doctor or to get your driver’s license renewed). In short, the time has some of the same type of plastic.

The technologies are for adults and baby’s pacifiers are

We recently tracked 135 smartphone users in a period of six weeks in the United States. Not surprisingly, most people used the phone for Internet access for the call. What was surprising to some was that about 25 percent of the time people just see the screens of their phones and looking at nothing in particular. We learned to talk to participants who were in control of his world – his friends. A new behavior of the light check in on friends, who offer the phone, it had become customary. Smartphone stressing they were not, but as comforting. It was his “pacifier technology.”

To understand how a smart phone is a pacifier requires an understanding of change in the way we use our phones. The phones are now our containers for social relations. Research participants described this to us in a number of ways. For example, a 30-something waitress who raised his right hand moving with authority, said: “This is my tribe.” A 20-something financial investor spoke of his phone and life support “to their social world. The routine monitoring of the telephone said repeatedly as a way for people to know what was happening with their friends and family. Knowing that we are connected and see what friends and family are doing puts people at ease.

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