Switch Off

I thought it would be an idea to share a talk I have thrown together over the last couple of days. I test-drove it yesterday with Rob Kitchen and Chris Waite’s brand-new brilliant Falmouth students. It’s a bit incoherent and all over the place, but it seemed to go down well.

Anyway here it is.

Is it time to stop and reflect on this digital madness?

I am an extreme case of sharing EVERYTHING, with the result that googling my name (which of course I do on a daily basis) produces a lot of results. I have been online since about 1998. And I am quite lucky in a sense that I have a quite unique name. So SEO is not an issue for me.

How about if your name is Dave Smith (apologies to all Dave Smith’s out there) it’s difficult to stand out online. Or even get a Gmail account. But hang on a minute, maybe that is a good thing to be able to easily keep your obscurity with a common name?

If your name is Baxter Toadstool there is no problem with uniqueness. Will parents have to think about SEO when naming their children? I for one have set up Twitter accounts for my children and Gmail accounts to which I send them emails. Both my kids can’t even read yet. Extreme?

Here is my thought. With all this digitalness everywhere, how often do you actually do NOTHING. Nothing at all. Are we finding it difficult to be in the moment without contemplating the possibility of sharing an experience?

There are so many people now at concerts for example experiencing a gig through a camera or phone with the intention of sharing a moment they haven’t REALLY experienced.

Switch off.

Try it. 2 minutes of nothing.

Difficult isn’t it?

Do we get carried away by all the possibilities of digital just because we can? In design this development seems to be similar. Why does this rooster need to be faux 3D? Because it’s possible?

How much more beautiful is the old packaging.

Is there a similar trend in advertising? Digital because we can? This economist poster is the best interactive ad I know. The completion of what you look at happens in your head. Interactive.

Of course I have stolen this thought from Mr Bullmore’s brilliant book More Bull More.

Social media. Do we get carried away? Sticking something on Facebook doesn’t mean we are “doing” social media. We need to make sure what we stick on FB is good in the first place, then people will share it. Maybe. And guess what, not everyone is on FB either. Image from the brilliant Ian Wojtowicz.

Random: Here is my favourite Antisocial site.

I love the concept of the cloud, but sometimes wonder where some of the serendipitous moments go I experience with my kids when they pull a random book out of my bookshelf. Do we need to kindlefy and iPadialize everything? Someone clever back in the day when I worked at Razorfish said: “Everything that can be digital will be.” I fear they might be right.

Digital imaging is on a similar journey. I have been on Flickr for about 6 years and I have over 21 thousand photos on there. Do I ever look at them? You know the answer.

Earlier this year I went to “The Square” at Sony HQ in Tokyo. It’s where they display the latest cutting edge technology. Stuff like the conceptual living room of the future. Incredible. 3D recording and playing kit. What struck me was how cold the imagery was in all it’s perfectness and supersharpness. Our lovely guide then showed us some artefacts of the Spiderman 2 movie, which I found far more interesting. And then she mentioned how some directors have a special process for un-sharpening films to make them more human, warmer.

I think this desire for humanness and warmth combined with photography nostalgia lies behind the success of Instagram.

Some of the photographic development is scary. Have you heard of the Lytro Camera? It captures the light and you can decide after the fact which part of the picture you want to see in focus. Boom!

In sharp (pun intended) contrast to that here is a rare photo of my grandparents at the 1936 Olympic games Berlin. Totally out of focus, black and white.

How amazing is this image. Of course i am biased.

Here it is. I am making a stand for the off button. As other people seem to do too.

Am I turning into neo-luddite? Do I have a digital midlife crisis?

Now, where is my Wacom Inking iPad connector?


3 thoughts on “Switch Off

  1. One of the Falmouth MA students whom Flo tested this speech on. Great to hear it in person, great to digest it again online. 🙂

  2. Beware the “Muchness”.

    This is the name I’ve given to the everything-shared-always-on-compulsion-to-broadcast-every-moment-of-your-waking-life-to-a-world-that-doesn’t-care-if-you-live-or-die.

    I burnt my brain with too muchness a while back.

    Now I spent a lot of time switched off, unplugged, contemplating.

    Here’s a poem I wrote a while ago to try and describe Muchness to a friend through a stoned haze of clarity…

    What Is Muchness?
    Muchnes is now/ Muchness is this / this ever growing outward/ always on system of interconnected and self perpetuating information/ Muchness is the new reality wallpaper that we are pasting up at such a furious rate we don’t stop to consider the nature of the pattern/ Muchness is me/ Muchness is you when you’re at the end of the telephone while on Facebook at the same time you are text-messaging me and ever always chasing for answers to your questions/ Muchness is the medium/ Muchness is the communication its self/ Muchness is the oposite of stillness/ Movement is the nature of Muchness/ However we don’t always see it creep up on us like the tide rising to the castle of sand/ Muchness is never satisfied/ Muchness distracts me from the job in hand/ From the task that I set out to do/ Muchness expects while continually demanding/ An unrelenting stream of continual distraction / Masquerading as paramount importance of similar ilk as things which really matter/ But here my friends is the truth behind this lie

    Muchness. Matters. Not.

    Enemy of mindfulness.
    Father of distraction.
    Road to mental destruction.

    Beware the Muchness, my friends, beware.

  3. Not sure what I enjoyed more. Reading the post and thinking about how relevant these thoughts are for todays life (no, really!) – or the fact that you find two images of The Hoff when you google your name… Take care!

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