Other posts related to human-experience

 | August 23, 2010 6:01 pm

The Internet is ForeverOver on ZDNet, Dana Blankenhorn, who writes the Linux and Open Source Blog, wrote an interesting piece entitled “We are all an open book.”  He was responding to something that Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, said last week:

Young people may one day have to change their names in order to escape their previous online activity.

To get his post started, Blankenhorn said that Schmidt’s comment may be the “dumbest thing said all year.”  And if you look at it superficially, it is.

There is small chance that all young people of the future will change their names to disown past mayhem.  (Or for that matter, that it would do any good.)  That’s just not how most people think.

If you drill down a level, though, you realize that the comment wasn’t stupid at all.  Or … maybe it’s better to say that the thinking behind the comment wasn’t stupid.  It shows that Schmidt (and thereby Google) is aware of two very powerful, and mutually exclusive, human desires – the hope for fame and the wish to preserve privacy – and that the web is requiring us to rethink our relationship to both.

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 | August 11, 2010 5:34 pm

Yesterday, while I was looking through Twitter, I came across an extremely interesting blog post by Krystal D’Costa, the author of the Urban Ethnographer.  (Though perhaps not for the reasons she intended.)

In her post, D’Costa asks the following question:

Are we losing our sense of social appropriateness? Or are transgressions more exaggerated now that we interact more frequently in the digital space where important social cues tend to be missing?

As tentative evidence toward her claim, D’Costa talks about an experience she recently had while riding a train home from work.  On that particular commute, she ended up sitting next to a gentleman who wished to talk.  D’Costa, however, did not.  To get her point across, D’Costa gave all of the non-verbal cues of indifference.  But the other passenger just ignored them.

Here’s how she describes her experience:

Within a few minutes, an older Jewish man shambled up the aisle, hoisted his very heavy briefcase up on the overhead rack, and muttered loudly: “I missed this train by ten seconds last night.” I looked up in surprise because my commutes on the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) are fairly quiet affairs. Most people are either sleeping or trying to finish some work or reading.

Having noticed my attention, he seemed to be waiting for a response. So I said, “Wow, that’s awful.” I should have kept reading—and honestly, I knew that was the case the instant that I saw his face: he was looking for someone to talk to. Anyone would have done. I just happened to draw the straw that night.

He plopped down in the seat and continued: “Oh, yeah. Isn’t that terrible? Ten seconds! Now, five minutes is a different story, but ten seconds makes you feel bad. Well, I don’t have a wife to keep track of these things, so what can you do?”

Trying to head him off, I gave him a sympathetic nod and went back to my laptop but the invitation had already been offered and he continued on—loudly. “I can’t find a nice girl to marry me. All they want is money. That’s how they’re being raised. Once they hear I’m a lawyer who makes less than $100,000.00 a year, they’re done with me. It starts when they’re young; their mothers teach them to look for men with money. They would rather be single and childless than married to me.”

Wincing at his words, I thought in my head, I think I can understand why, and I’m sure a few passengers around us probably had a similar thought as well. He continued in this way for most of the trip, talking endlessly despite the fact that I made a great show of working diligently on my laptop.

Finally, I cut him off explaining that I needed to transfer trains, and got up to wait by the door.

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