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

Elocution is Dead: Impacts of the Internet

Satellites, ISIS and elocution are not some of the first things I usually think of when I think of the internet. But they sure are to my Grandad. Building on my Grandad’s experiences of television in the home during the 1960’s, naturally the next step is to discuss the weird and wonderful internet to find out what sparks Grandad’s curious minds.

Satellites are a cause for concern. Source
Satellites are a cause for concern. Source

To engage in a more collaborative research practice I started by asking my Grandad what aspect of the internet he was interested in or concerned about, which immediately sparked conversation to flow. I must admit I was quite surprised when he immediately said that he noticed the GPS in his new car receives information from a satellite owned by the US military, which raised multiple questions of security and privacy.

“If they took the satellite away, what would happen?”

This is a very appropriate question, given the changing nature of the internet and technology. As Grandad said ‘people run businesses and rely on the internet in their everyday lives,’ so if anything were to happen to a satellite, a server or network, what would we be left with? I don’t know the question to the future of the GPS and our reliance on technology, but here is a brief history of the GPS and the military’s involvement.

I then asked what concerned him about younger generations use of the internet as he has grandchildren between the age of 10-16. ‘I’ve already noticed that the internet has affected young people’s spelling, reading and speaking properly. Elocution is dead.’ He is extremely worried about the effects of being addicted to the internet and games, again, I’m sure many parents and grandparents resonate with these concerns.

Concerns with teenagers and their devices. Source
Concerns with teenagers and their devices. Source

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for the internet. Yesterday, my beautiful cousin gave birth to a healthy little boy. She lives in Queensland yet in a matter of minutes, a picture was posted on Facebook and my grandparents were able to look at their beautiful new grandchild. This is one of the reasons that Grandad thinks ‘the internet is a terrific aid for anyone wanting access to information, to keep in touch with loved ones far and wide, and allowing people to run a business from home.’ Further research explains that ‘older citizens able and willing to use the internet to communicate with their families and friends, and to maintain their independence and personhood.’ (Xie, 2003), the main reason my Grandparents are online.

I think the general public is quick to assume that older generations are a bit behind when it comes to technology, and whilst Grandad admits to being a little confused with some technological process, I think they’re a lot more knowledgeable with technology than we’d like to admit.

Next time I’m visiting, I’ll definitely be more observant of when, how and why they use the internet. I believe to engage in more collaborative ethnographic research, I could do a cross-comparison of Grandad’s versus my internet habits and see what similarities and differences we have. Something I would be interested in doing in the future.

So, Grandad would like to leave you with some words of wisdom regarding teenagers using the internet in the home.

“You must use the internet in common rooms so we can keep an eye on you, and if you don’t like it then too bad. We’re only trying to look out for you.”

***

The following video explores how social media is affecting the youth of today.

The following video takes a light approach to whether or not the internet is making us smarter or dumber-er.

For more information on collaborative ethnographic research, check out the following posts

BCM Alison – Ethnographic Research and its Value https://ambcm.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/ethnographic-research-and-its-value/

Flog My Blog Was Already Taken – You’re Never Alone With Collaborative Ethnography https://flogmyblogwasalreadytaken.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/youre-never-alone-with-collaborative-ethnography/

References

Xie, B 2003, ‘Older Adults, Computers and the Internet: Future Directions’, Gerontechnology Journal, Vol. 2, No. 4, http://gerontechnology.info/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/gt.2003.02.04.002.00/288