Reading: Digital Vertigo #digitalvertigo

Digital VertigoWith the eBook edition of this book set at £0.00 I couldn’t resist seeing what the fuss is about – this book has received good and bad reviews. But, more importantly, it’s made people question our interest and reliance on online tools and websites and networks and activities.

Even though I’m only a few chapters in to the book already I’m realising my over-reliance and over-bearing interest in putting my work and family life online (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.) is not necessary. For the most part it’s intrusive and getting in the way (especially photo-editing family pictures to post to Facebook – yes, it’s sharing for those who can’t be present, but it still gets in the way of the actual event).

“Rather than virtual or second life, social media is actually becoming life itself – the central and increasingly transparent stage of human existence, what Silicon Valley venture capitalists are now calling an ‘Internet of People’.”

“What I glimpsed in that late November afternoon in Bloomsbury was the anti-social future, the loneliness of the isolated man in the connected crowd.”

“Personal visibility, I recognised, is the new symbol of status and power in our digital age. Like the corpse locked in his transparent tomb [Jeremy Bentham], we are now all on permanent exhibition, all just images of ourselves in this brave new transparent world.”

“… today’s social media is actually splintering our identities so that we actually exist outside ourselves, unable to concentrate on the here-and-now, too wedded to our own image, perpetually revealing our current location, our privacy sacrificed to the utilitarian tyranny of a collective network.”

“The simple architecture of the digital Inspection House is now all around us. Has Nineteen Eighty-Four finally arrived on all our screens?”

I am not alone either – many have (ironically) turned to Twitter to voice their feelings:

But this is in conflict about how education is moving to being even more online, even more digital, ins’t it?

MOOCs are so very popular at the moment (I’m about to start my 5th, and hopefully I’ll finish it too – only my second finish) and require the participants to spend even more time online, often in the evening or at weekends if they’ve already got a full timetable of work, family, and social life. MOOCs often require the students to sign up to either the platform it’s hosted on or to other networks in order to complete the ‘assignments’. For the recent EDC MOOC I had to resurrect an old Flickr account I stopped using several years ago so I could share one picture. For this picture to show up in the search list I had to make sure my Flickr account had at least 5 pictures in it, therefore I had to upload 4 other meaningless pictures.

Even though we may want to live offline more and online less are we able to do this – I deleted my Facebook account 4 years ago, and then resurrected it again when I realised I needed it (but still don’t like it) to keep in touch with other people who only use it.

Can we actually ‘stop the rot’ and remove ourselves from this “brave new transparent world”, even if we wanted to? Am I weak-willed or a slave to the network and how we/you use it? Probably a bit of both. How about you?