Class update #1: Thoughts on the hyperconnected family

Following our first class in COM 530, I am looking forward to seeing where everyone’s research topics are going. I was particularly interested in the idea of the future of the hyperconnected family—Karen Hartshorn’s research topic. Perhaps there will one day be a time when families speak to one another only through means of technological devices. With the continuous development of the Internet, software programs and more portable technologies, it is important that individuals work to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date with the latest programs available while still maintaining social identity outside of the sphere of the World Wide Web.

Many families don’t take time out of their days to eat dinner together or socialize after work and school. The importance of conversation on the Web is just as crucial face-to-face. This will be an interesting balance for families to manage in the future. From the third COM 530 book “Reaching Interactive Audiences,” research has shown that children are becoming just as addicted to the Internet and mobile devices as adults. While Blackberry use is attributed more to adults than children, younger generations are becoming more involved in social networks and online gaming. Currently, it is common for adults to discipline children by monitoring and controlling the Web sites that children visit and their time spent online. As technology becomes more seamlessly integrated into the lives of individuals, how easy will it be for parents to manage their children in terms of controlling their online interactions and behaviors?

Soon, nearly every object will be a source of information output. It will become more difficult to separate the classic “family time” from the daily routine of message generation and conversation through online sessions. If the research predictions about brain chip implants are true and these devices become wide spread, the whole notion of family and community is going to change. Soon there will be almost no time spent between families when one or more members are not connecting with the outside world.

This balance between staying connected online and being fully present in person is also going to play a huge role for businesses in the future. While perhaps there will be a day when there will be no need to leave the privacy of one’s home to conduct errands, this is not the current case (The Disney film “Wall-E” presented this as part of its strong underlying message). “The Cluetrain Manifesto” emphasizes the importance of conversation and voice between corporations, employees and customers. This is essential both online and in physical stores and office locations.

No matter how intuitive computers become, it is difficult for me to imagine a world without human-to-human interaction. While this will not happen in my lifetime, many are arguing that computers will one day take over and there will be no need for humans. As advanced as the technology is becoming, I think that there is value in the feelings and experience of people that computers will never be able to acquire or ultimately replace.


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