TechLines 2: lusting after disconnection

After Australians get the ubiquitous national connection offered by the Coalition or Labor's broadband policies, they might find that they desperately want to be disconnected.

After Australians get the ubiquitous national connection offered by the Coalition or Labor's broadband policies, they might find that they desperately want to be disconnected.

Intel director, interaction and experience research Genevieve Bell said earlier this month at the TechLines future of email debate that she'd been doing research in countries which have fast broadband and wide mobile device circulation.

One thing she'd noted was signs in places like churches that asked people to turn their phone off, and then another sign underneath that pointed out that even if the mobile users didn't power down, there was a cell site dampener in use so the phone wouldn't work anyway.

"While we talk in a work sense and in a personal sense about all these forms of communication and connection and social networking and engagement, what I'm also starting to see in the research we do is people seeking out spaces where they can be explicitly disconnected," she said.

Whether users seek out sites such as churches to find peace in disconnection or turn their phones off, there is a push to having periods without being hooked in to technology, she said.

Futurist Mark Pesce said that it was only the arrival of constant connection that gave us the desire to escape.

"Because we never had until say a few years ago, the pressure of so much connectivity we never really gave a thought to the desire to be disconnected. It's only because we're now constantly connected that we want to be disconnected," he said.

Bell, on the other hand, gave another reason for people's desire to disconnect, blaming an "extraordinary tension" between how technology and human beings operate.

"Our devices function better when they're constantly connected, constantly connected to power and networks," she said. "Human beings in some ways function better when we intermittently disconnect."

IBM general manager Lotus Software and WebSphere Portal Alistair Rennie believed, however, that humans just as equally couldn't live without connection. "I think it's a contradiction. People want to be connected; if you want to make someone anxious now, disconnect them."

This was one of the issues discussed in the second 10 minutes of the TechLines email debate. We will be providing the debate broken down into bite-sized chunks over the next week.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All