Wasted Space and Wasted Time?

We all know that money is time and time is money. So it makes sense to make the most of each spare minute we have. As the Swish Media Group says ‘it’s no secret that Australians are becoming increasingly time poor,’ and I completely agree. My calendar is smothered and my phone beeps every half an hour or so (I may have even slept with my phone by my side on the odd occasion). So I love my phone and so do all of my friends. But is multi-screening making us more productive?

People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011
People killing time immersed in their phones. Source UltraSlo1, 2011

These days you’d think that a mobile phone was supplying oxygen to people’s brains… people just can’t live without them. A few weeks ago, we talked about ‘non-places.’ Non-places are those spaces that are used for no particular reason or as a transition place (Bowles, 2015) like a hallway or an airport corridor. So whilst people are usually forced to use these non-places or even places they’re waiting for something, it’s natural to keep yourself occupied.

Even when we’re in public, we bring a piece of our private lives with us. Google’s New Multi Screen World’s: Understanding Cross Platform Consumer Behaviour Research Study says, ‘that smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities.’ We can see that people are utilising the power of their smartphones when they are out in public, and follow up with some further research on a PC later. After looking at the last tabe I had open on my phone, work intranet, my UOW SOLS page, an image search of Eddie Redmayne and how to find a book in the library… the majority of them correlate with a spontaneous ideas ‘must submit my work hours,’ ‘have I got my assignment marks back yet?’ ‘ah Eddie Redmayne is cute,’ ‘how do I borrow a book from the library?’ By having the ability to act upon all of these thoughts when I’m away from my PC brings me a lot more reassurance and leaves me feeling like I’ve accomplished a lot in a small amount of time.

Snapshot from Google's research
Snapshot from Google’s research

In keeping up with my collaborative ethnography, I sat down with a group of friends and discussed multi screening and the appropriate behaviour regarding mobile usage.  The points that I discussed with my friends reflected some of Google’s findings, like the fact that many of us ‘accomplish goals through spontaneous device uses.’ My friends said that they would often find themselves adding things to their calendars, booking train tickets home – just accomplishing other things that they’d need to do anyway. Instead, they just did it during a lecture, on the bus or even on the toilet.

But as the above video very nicely points out, that perhaps being always switched on, may not always be a good thing. We’ve let our phones into our dinner conversations, meetings, workplaces, classrooms, dates… everywhere. So whilst we seem to have all of this ‘wasted time,’ maybe it’s more important to take some time for ourselves and embrace real moments with others.

References

Bowles, K 2015, ‘Cinemas: Strangers in public’, BCM240, University of Wollongong, delivered 24 August

Google, 2012 ‘The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross Platform Behaviour,’ US, https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf

Swish Media

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