Do we use the web or does it use us?

Posted on May 6, 2013

 

There are not many examples of technology going from inception to ubiquity in as short a time as the internet. In just twenty years, it’s gone from a cumbersome and obscure information exchange to the lifeblood of our work, entertainment, social interaction and our identity.

We’ve seen the web distributed to portable devices as they became capable of supporting it in a meaningful and useful manner. The way we interact online will increasingly be revolved around us as people, rather than our devices. Our favourite applications are evolving from downloadable files to merely interfaces. We subscribe to services that plug in to our lives, and we love the convenience.

Where does convenience end and autonomy begin? We don’t always exercise this, but a smartphone or a tablet is a portal, a tangible item that can be put down, ignored or turned off. Google Glass, for example, is looking to guide us in taking the leap from our current devices, to technology that we can wear. Finally, our essential media, applications and services can be presented to us right in front of our eyes, no hands, no effort.

Are we in danger of becoming dumb terminals and not relying on ourselves? Why process information and determine your own outlook when there’s a snappy, concisely-expressed opinion out there for you to grab and appropriate as your own?

Modern technology has the capability of improving our lives immeasurably through advancements in healthcare, transparency of information and greener manufacturing and energy. However, we should be careful to stop and consider if the latest innovations are actually improving our lives or detracting from it, enabling laziness or locking us in as minions of the biggest technology giants.

John Murray

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