When plugging-out gives you connection withdrawal syndrome

by librarianincognita ~ July 20th, 2011

Over the weekend, I took a short break and hopped over to Vancouver Island to visit friends, took long walks and enjoyed the natural scenery – it was fresh air and a welcomed change from staring at the computer from morning to night. Unfortunately, I was suffering from a connection withdrawal syndrome. Every few hours or so, I would wonder about the tweets and blog posts I missed, the forum posting requirements that I have yet to fulfill… it hindered my ability to enjoy my time on the island to my fullest capacity.

I am not always like that. I don’t have a smart phone, my ipad is wi-fi only and I am perfectly capable of going on a long vacation and leaving the world behind. In short, I enjoy being plugged-out. It is important because there is simply too much going on and to try to follow every single online update would be to fry your own mental circuits. Enough is enough – the world goes on without you and you are no lesser for missing one update. In fact, being away allows me to listen to my own thoughts. When I am online, I am bombarded with everyone’s thoughts and after a while, I am not sure which ones belong to me and which ones came from the great big cyberverse.

So why did I feel such anxiety over the weekend? Was it because all of a sudden my online activities were graded and the opportunity cost of not being active online suddenly becomes greater? Or was it because I spent an excessive amount of time online in the three days before that I had gotten used to being plugged-in and removing it felt like something was ripped from me? I personally thought it was the former and that is very much centered around the word “opportunity cost”. It stems from the fear of missing some quintessential update which is in turn linked to how you are perceived. In an online class, it translates to “participation” which has a grade. In the online social universe, it would be missing someone’s updates that would have made you a better friend had you wished them “happy birthday” or “congratulations” or a word of sympathy for some misfortune. Part of it sounds silly (trust me – I know) but I have been at the lashing end before, being told that I was a lesser friend for not “expressing” my care and concern over the social universe. In retrospect, it’s hilarious but it was not funny when it was happening and it certainly shows that social media has redefined our expectations in relationships, especially if both parties are wired. I certainly do not think making token remarks on friends’ updates makes you a better friend so I do not see why not doing it makes you a lesser one.

That said, circling back to the first point. There are two worlds, the physical and the online one – they are not substitutes for one another and people are learning to live with both. The online world should not come at the expense of the physical world and if taking a break causes you to have withdrawal symptoms, then it probably is a signal that you need to get more fresh air. A sunny day may not be there tomorrow but the computer most likely will.

I wish I could eat my ipad… (but then I would have to buy another one)

by librarianincognita ~ July 13th, 2011

I wonder what the nutritional value of an ipad is – does it have the value of fast food which is wildly popular but terribly unhealthy or that of a hearty wholesome meal that not only tastes good but is good for the body as well?

I swing between being embarrassed that I own an ipad and openly talking about it and its capabilities. Embarrassed because I dislike being lumped with the gadget crazy crowd who prides in having what the latest technology has to offer but I also acknowledge that I do like the ipad very very much. Perhaps I am being hypocritical but in my defense, I never owned an iphone and probably never will. My ipad was a gift to my father who in turn gave it to me because he didn’t know how to use it. I suspect when he discovers its full capabilities, he’s going to want it back but for now, it’s mine.

The ipad changed a lot of the way I did things and it is a great example of how the medium defines the content and in some ways supersedes it. The ipad itself is an empty shell but lends itself to be adapted for different things, whether it’s surfing the web, reading, note-taking, gaming and I would say cooking as well. I never liked bringing my computer to school because I  didn’t like typing my notes – I like to draw circles, scribble and draw maps – the ipad allows me to do all of these without pen and paper or the weight of a laptop. Reading academic papers has never been easier because I download them straight into the device which allows me to annotate them as well. Reading the news has also been easier with news aggregators that allow you to “flip” pages just as you would a physical paper.

The ipad appeals to my visual and kinesthetic self and is amazingly intuitive. I have never felt such great fondness for a computing device. I am a lover of physical books and traditional crafts but instead of competing with my interests, the ipad allows me to develop them – make lists of books while on the move, digitally draw out a new craft project, edit my photos or collect my ideas for a new piece of writing. As testimony to its intuitive nature, my grand aunt who is in her 70s is able to easily use it. Now that is what I call affordance.

I should also mention I cook with the ipad too – with youtube videos showing me how to prepare a meal step-by-step. At times like these, it is propped on the kitchen table as an aid to the terrible cook that I am.

Anyway, this is a lovely article on how the ipad has been used in different ways: How the ipad revolution has transformed working lives

Photo Note: There are 2 ipads because when there was 1, my husband and I had to squabble over it. We decided that in this case, 2 is better than 1 and now we play board games together over wi-fi.

Hello world!

by librarianincognita ~ July 12th, 2011

Hi! I’m Felicia, an MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) student at the University of British Columbia. This blog was created for the class LIBR559m which deals with social media and information professionals. You can read more about my personal self in the about page.

Since this blog is primarily about social media, I would like to start by sharing my own personal experience with it. I started blogging since 2002 which is almost 10 years ago. In those early days, it was often an avenue of self validation. It was wonderful to be able to share one’s thoughts about something that happened and have people respond – my young adult self found it wonderfully assuring. Privacy meant very little then though I was conscious about not making disparaging remarks about others. As I grew older, I found that I did not relish the thought of people I was unfamiliar reading my blog which resulted in the move to private blogs. That caused readership to drop. People could not see it in their RSS feed and most found it a hassle to log in. When readership dropped, I felt less inclined to post anything. These days, I just use Facebook.

I realised then that blogs are written to be read, they are not personal diaries or a place to write long academic papers (as a friend of mine used to do) unless readership means nothing to the blogger which then begs the question of “why publish it?” It’s a wonderful tool when used correctly but many have run into problems like school teacher Natalie Munroe who got flagged for insulting her students on her blog (see article here).  I also realised that issues of privacy matter more the older you grow. Blogging did not happen in my early teenage years so I did not have a whole lot of “floating information” to delete and even then, erasing that footprint was difficult. I wonder about the children and teenagers of today who would have started at a younger age. By the time privacy matters to them, would it be too late for them to remove their digital footprint?

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