Ch-Ch-Ch-Check It Out

The other day, danah boyd posted an insightful column about laptops/smartphones in meetings and lectures. While I try to prescind from portentous claims about a “clash of civilizations” or “paradigm shifts,” I suspect that people who have begun to assimilate the capacities of cyborg life (constant net access, fractional attention processing) will irritate the dickens out of people who have not begun that transition (if they are not outright resisting it). Over the next few years, we’ll develop a new etiquette that takes account of both the changed digital capacities (on one hand) and of (semi-)cyborg priorities and attitudes (on the other); we’ll have different technological developments that will irritate tardy adopters; the world will go on. Climate change is a danger to civilization; cyborg existence will change civilization, and some folks won’t like the change, but Juvenal and Lucian didn’t like the changes of civilization in their time, either.
I don’t try to extort attention from students or conference participants. Sometimes I ask that students concentrate their capacities on immanent-capacities (memory, association, improvisation) only, but that’s for the specific purpose of cultivating those capacities — not to insulate me (or them) from the vastly-expanded capacities made available online. Apart from that caveat, I have to win direct attention from classes and audiences; if I’m not engaging their willing focal attention, then I can’t complain if they’re checking their email. Heck, I could use more time for clearing email myself.

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