Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Can't Understand New Technology #2

The second issue of Can't Understand New Technology comes out (officially) today. Thanks to my co-founder Steve Price, our superstar contributors, and a power gang of financial backers it continues to be a publication I am immensely proud of.

The launch issue of Can't received a great response from its readers, with Design Week terming it "a lot of swearing with a fair bit of insight". We self-financed both the printing and distribution - circulating just 100 copies to the great and good of London, San Francisco and New York. It took a little longer than expected, but we bring you Issue 2 today thanks to funding via our network on Indiegogo, and with the support of the School of Communication Arts, whose students have created "ads" across the paper. To you all, big respect and thanks from the bottom of my heart.

So, what's in it? Amongst other thought-provoking pieces, we bring you a killer opening article from none other than the bearded darling of Shoreditch - Nik Roope, more bleeding edge ranting from the sartorially advanced Harry Woodrow, and wild futuristic ponderings from Panja Gobel. The ladies of Digit - Laura Tan and Alexis Cuddyre - have created a controversial infographic, Tony Hymes pursues Steve Jobs in Hell, and Ellen Turnill solves more reader problems. In essence, it's a page turner.

If you received a copy today - of which there are very limited numbers - please show it to all your good looking and influential friends, and give us a shout out using the hashtag #cantunderstandnewtechnology.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Digital blankies

In a recent Wired article, Grant McCracken considered our propensity for comfort consuming as such, “I believe we binge on TV to craft time and space, and to fashion an immersive near-world with special properties. We enter a world that is, for all its narrative complexity, a place of sudden continuity. We may have made the world “go away” for psychological purposes, but here, for anthropological ones, we have built another in its place. The second screen in some ways becomes our second home”.

McCracken makes a strong point, but I believe it goes beyond TV. I think we’re inching towards a mindset of “wherever I lay my phone, that’s my home”.  Like a blankey, we associate our devices with a deeply personal feeling of security, belonging and reassurance. But, unlike a blankey, it’s not the object itself we are attached to – phones and laptops are interchangeable – but the data they hold and the people they connect us to.

As our emotional connection to physical objects and locations dwindles, so our definition of ‘home’ changes. ‘Home’ instead, is wherever you and a wifi connection are. We can travel halfway around the world, but the things that make us feel at home (our families, our friends, our favourite films, the things that make us laugh, cry and feel nostalgic) are all there, at the swipe of a screen. These days, it’s rarely ever “goodbye”, more often “see you on the Internet”.

Philosophically moving into our second, digital homes, however, throws up new challenges. Writer Quinn Norton muses on how we tackle “a world where falling in love, going to war and filling out tax forms looks the same; it looks like typing”. So much of history, of culture, of storytelling is about setting a scene – the land we stand on, the smells, sights and sounds around us, the things we’ve discovered and invented, the objects and people we treasure. Now the scene is set on screen, in the cloud and amongst users. Before, we used to obsess over what we’d rescue if our houses burned down. Today we can walk out and need only look back to Instagram the fire.

Snaps to Andy Ellis for the enlightening chat on this subject.