Lift12, People vs. Technology: Stefana Broadbent

[fr] Je suis à la conférence Lift12 à Genève ces prochains jours. Voici mes notes de sessions.

Live-blogging from Lift12 conference in Geneva. These are my notes and interpretations of Gordan Savicic‘s talk — best effort, but might be imprecise or even wrong!

Three girls in a row on a sofa with laptops on their knees: most people find this a bit distressful and emblematic of our times, they’re not engaging with one another. But put them in front of a desk, everyone finds that normal.

Stefana Broadbent Lift12

Attention is a limited resource, it’s true. We’ve built a huge amount of institutions that do not much else than control attention. Schools, cubicles, factories… Ensure the attention is focused on the task at hand. Attention, productivity, isolation? Is that how it works?

Same thing at home. Dinner table. We also have techniques to control attention. Where you seat people, where you put the food… We also do it when we lay out our furniture.

The kind of sofa setup that is familiar to us today (facing each other, etc) appeared in homes around the beginning of the industrial revolution, when work had moved out from the home. As work moved out, the home was privatized, it became a place of refuge, focused on emotions, on leisure.

Things that belong in and out of the home changed over the years, and the last 100 years a lot has moved out (food processing, clothes making, illness and death, production, waste…). What moved in? Washing, playing, socialising, child rearing, leisure…

This has an impact on how the house is designed. Big living area, less services areas. House blueprints and prototypes. For example, the kitchen merges into the living space. The only “work” going on in the house is ensuring the solidarity between the house members. Excludes the outside!

What happens when technology enters the home? The TV fits beautifully. Even with a big screen. It’s a social device, you watch it together. No room for individual interaction with TV. But actually, the whole family watching TV at the same time doesn’t really happen much. But the placing of the TV gives this illusion. Same with the Wii.

Where do people position their devices? In public and private spaces in the home?

Shared: TV/radio. Private: PC. Preserving the private space.

Interesting: what happens when a single woman in a studio with lots of devices has a child and moves into a bigger flat? Re-planning device isolation.

Another thing that happens is that devices become smaller.

Device usage of young homeless people: no different than that of “homeful” people of the same age group. (Watching football for example.)

The big social change that is happening is that there are fewer and fewer situations in which we are accepting the social control of our attention. All these expectations about control of attention are causing friction, at work, in couples, in homes.

The little suburban boxes have been creating the isolation. Bringing wired technology in the homes is actually opening them up.

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