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Toto, I think we are not in the 20th Century anymore

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Thomas Blume

on 27 June 2011

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Transcript of Toto, I think we are not in the 20th Century anymore

Toto, I don't think we are in the 20th Century anymore
Thomas W. Blume
Oakland University
Rochester, Michigan, USA

Have you been feeling like you have been picked up, spun around, and dropped?

Do people in this new place seem different?

Does it all seem fantastic and glamorous but also scary? A little bit like being in Oz?

If so, you may be a “digital immigrant”—a person who entered the 21st Century as an adolescent or adult.
Feeling lost and confused
We are going to explore this new world--following a Silicon Brick Road.

We have advantages that Dorothy didn’t have:

We can make sense of how we got here.
We can step back in time to get our bearings.

We'll start in a base camp where we'll train for the expedition.
Deciding to explore
Our panelists in the briefing have been key players in 20th Century technology. They represent 4 "families" that have generations of history.

Their histories can help us to understand what we are about to encounter.
Our briefing team
A member of the Voice family.

In the 20th Century, voice technology

Bridged long distances
Supported relationships by allowing people to “be together”
A member of the Text family

In the 20th Century, text

Promoted careful use of language
Created virtual communities who shared meanings and ideas
Portable typewriter
Princess phone
A member of the Image family.

In the 20th Century, images

Augmented our memories
Created virtual communities of people who had “been there”
Instamatic camera
A member of the Entertainment family.

20th Century entertainment technologies

Brought opinions and cultural messages into homes and pockets
Created virtual communities who shared the same “experience”
Pocket television
Technology was at the center of a 20th Century mobility revolution that promoted:

As we entered the 21st Century, what new technologies appeared? Here's a quick review.
Social technology themes
The personal computer was new and at first it didn't seem to be good for very much.

Video games started in malls and convenience stores, then moved onto computers.

Entertainment (and the field of family therapy) was turned upside down by VCRs and Videotape.

AOL and Compuserve created membership communities with email service.
The Internet took off

Web Pages
Digital picture sharing
Laptop computers with cameras

Parents resisted having computers in their homes but schools started assigning web-based projects.

Portable video games became widespread and mobile phones became standard equipment.

Family therapists started hearing about effects: online affairs, online gambling problems, and online porn addiction.
Phones became portable game devices.

Text messaging became a substitute for voice conversation.

Family therapists became accustomed to seeing couples who had met online, and we began exchanging DVDs for Virtual Reflecting Team responses.

For adolescents, MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube replaced hanging out at the mall--and the term "sexting" suddenly appeared. But older generations also adopted Social Media.

Hardware and programs became more integrated -- voice, text, images, and entertainment 24/7 on a single device.
Our first group have come to technology with a goal of finding specific information. They may be shopping, planning a trip....

Great! Here’s a potential mental health/legal client who is is searching for information on divorce.

What tools will s/he use? Will they lead to useful resources?
Information seeking
Search engines
Google advanced scholar
The next group has come to technology to make direct connections with friends, relatives, and sometimes with therapists:
Checking in, sharing their
Talking about plans
Asking for help

A phone call might work, but do they have other options? What about privacy/security? Do they care?
Personal connection
Internet phone/videophone
Text message (phone)
Checking a friend's pages
The next group has come to technology with a goal of connecting with, or being active in, social networks:
Isolated in community/school
Starting a new business
Preparing for empty nest
Adapting to divorce

What are they using?
Networking and social identities
Groups on Google or Yahoo
But there seems to be another group who want more from connections online.

They need both information and support as they explore, enhance, or transform their lives and their relationships:
Entering new life stages
Recovering from addiction
Living with chronic disease or disability

What tools are they using? Are they getting what they seek?
Identity work
Information and advocacy
Online therapy
Professional opportunities
Speaking of networking...

We see that there is a group of people seeking services online.

We would expect that there is also a group of people providing services, as well as education and training for professionals.

Aha! Here are a few of them.
But life is not all about work and shopping and problems.

There's another group ahead on the road that has come to technology with a goal of play--what I see as another kind of identity work.

Contrary to stereotypes, the online role players are not all children and adolescents. Many couples play together online.

We’ll look at just a few of the options.
Single player games
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG)--Lord of the Rings
Virtual reality worlds--Second Life
And the pace of change continues to escalate.

So…we’re ready to hit the road and see what's out there right now.

We’re going to drop in on groups of people who are using technology!
Couple games
Self-Help Magazine
Social networks
Online conferences
Interactive game hardware
Family life in cyber-world
In a word, Yes. What kinds of changes do we see?

New definitions of family boundaries: what are children exposed to, what "family business" is disclosed, who has influence?

Changing relationships with grandparents and adult siblings.

Changes in family hierarchy e.g. when the 5-year-old fixes the parent's Power Point presentations for graduate school

New criteria and new processes for choosing life partners--no longer Murstein's Stimulus, Value, Role sequence
Back in the Real World
What did we see on our trip? Was it really different from the world we left behind?

I said that technology in the 20th Century was about Speed, Choice, Connection, and Conformity. And that's what we have found in the 21st Century. Faster, more choice, MUCH more connection, and more pressure to conform.

But technology in the 21st Century is more participatory. We support and strengthen our multiple identities by interacting in communities where we are accepted and challenged.

Are relationships somehow different in this new world?
Where do we go from here?
We hear from families about their interactions with technology. We may be able to serve them better if we know about what they are experiencing, e.g.

critics express concern that some people seem to be losing their ability to handle reality.
there are many challenges presented by living in a virtual small town where every action is observed and recorded.

But there are challenges for professionals as well:

Technology can distract and social media can be demanding.
Privacy requires careful attention to detail.

In the end, each of us has to decide how much time and energy to put into being part of this new world.
Professional organizations
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