How Technology is Shaping Your Life

by Tanner M. on

Google Wave Case Study, Twitter Case Study, Technology & Personal Development, and Lifestyle Design is a Product of Technology

“We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.”

-Winston Churchill

I have been learning about social informatics, the study of information and communication tools in cultural, or institutional contexts (Kling, Rosenbaum, & Sawyer, 2005), in one of my University classes. A common viewpoint that many people believe is that technology shapes society. However this is not only thing that shapes society.

Although, technology can be viewed as the biggest factor in shaping society. For example E=mc2 led to Hiroshima. Steam engine led to the Industrial Revolution. But there are also other factors that apply to shaping society.

“This book is about the future….It is a future which will involve a transformation of world society at all kinds of levels…a future which is largely molded by a single technology….The computer”

-The Mighty Micro, C. Evans, 1979

Society also has a large impact on technology. Technology can be formed to meet many different needs of society.

Understanding How You Shape Technology & How Technology Shapes You: Google Wave Case Study

Take the case of the Google Wave Technology.

Let’s say one person has incentive to learn how to use this technology. Maybe they are working with a team of researchers on a particular topic. They would probably be more inclined to delve into learning about Google Wave because they have an incentive to use this technology.

Whereas a person who does not need to collaborate with others has no incentive or care to use the technology. However, this person might still use the Google Wave Technology for his or her own benefit; say as a Task Management Tool or a place to keep notes.

Finally, for most of us, we have no idea how to use Google Wave, even though we are being told by Google to use it as a collaborative tool.

The person in the team of collaborators might use Google Wave in “waves” of use. That is, they might use it for one research project and then not use it for a period of time. Then comes another research project, thus another “wave”, and they use it again (depending if it was valuable in the first place).

The person that uses Wave solely for a To-Do list and general notes might constantly have the Google Wave application open because he is always adjusting and changing his notes and To-Do list.

And lastly, those who have no idea how to use Google Wave will most likely not mess around with the technology at all. Until society shapes this into a workable tool to benefit the majority of people, we will not use it or we will use it very sparingly.

Three different social contexts and three different uses of a technology designed for collaborative purposes. The social context is shaping the way the Google Wave technology is being used.

Many of us think that technology shapes society; however, you need to look at it in both ways. Technology shapes society and society shapes technology.

Why This Matters

Right now the Google Wave technology is sitting in dead waters. Very few people are using it for its intended functions of collaboration. Many people are sticking to what has worked in the past with e-mail, instant messaging, or even Google Docs.

This is important because it shows that technologies may occasionally work well for some people and may occasionally be valuable but are sometimes abandoned or unusable and thus results in mindless hope & inspiration in people.

New Technology Flow Chart - Social Informatics Flow Chart

What does all this have to do with Personal Development & Lifestyle Design

Twitter Case Study

Technology is evolving the way we personally develop and live our lifestyles. With the high increase in information technologies, we have much more access to learn about ways of improving our lives.

For example, let’s make a case study of a recent dialogue using the Information Communications Technology, Twitter.

I was checking Twitter and @duffmcfuffee said something about seeing a generous act performed by someone else that made him feel happy.

I responded that I just listened to a Podcast (another ICT) on Positive Psychology (Shrink Wrap Radio if you are wondering) and learned that emotions are highly contagious. That might be one of the reasons for his joy of seeing this kind and generous act.

He responded with a question, something like “What if we visualized positive emotions being played out?” So he visualized a person being generous to someone else and responded that it worked. He felt an emotion of joy, which lasted for awhile, from visualizing this generous act.

Just like that, the information tech tool, Twitter, provided a source of “Personal Development Wisdom,” that could ultimately shape a path in our life.

Technology & Personal Development

Technology shapes the way we share personal development information (Twitter as opposed to speaking face-to-face) but we also shape technology (Google Wave) for use as a personal development tool (To-Do list).

Technology is evolving the way we develop personally.
It is evolving personal development & lifestyle design ideas. It has enabled man to manipulate these ideas so that the information evolves and endures throughout the life of man rather than that of an individual. Life Destiny is a case of manipulating and evolving personal development ideas.

So use technology as a tool in your life to build upon personal development. Thinking about this topic a little further, I actually provide quite a few different tech tools as a source of inspiration in The Inspiration Manifesto.

Would a person of 100 years ago have the knowledge and wisdom of the different ideas and manipulations of personal development that we have today? Some wisdom seems to be timeless (Dale Carnegie) but it also evolves with the time (How to Win Friends & Influence People for the Twenty-First Century book? Should I evolve Dale Carnegie’s ideas to the modern age or has this already happened? Think of Professional Bloggers telling you to continually comment on other people’s blogs to “win a friend.”).

Lifestyle Design is a Product of Technology

Lifestyle design was not even thought of 100, 50, or even 10 years ago. Lifestyle design, If used as the definition that Tim Ferriss of the Four Hour Workweek (time & mobility), then Lifestyle Design is a product of technology, in this case, outsourcing technology.

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