Wednesday, October 1, 2008

LIS 768: New Conversations (My Choice of Topic Post)

I've been thinking this last week about how the new Web 2.0 applications and other technology have changed how we interact as individuals.

Watching the kid interact with her friends brings home the difference between how she and her friends have conversations versus how at the same age, my friends and I did. Her dad is always telling her to call her friends and go do something...but because he doesn't hear her talking, to him, it doesn't seem like they are talking.

In contrast, when I was her age, I spent countless hours on the phone with my friends talking and doing homework together. The conversations were audible. There were drawbacks, though. I could only be talking to one of my friends at a time, and if someone else tried to call, s/he was met with a busy signal. And if I wasn't at home, I couldn't call anyone (our phones were attached with cords to the wall). So, there were definite limits to how and where conversations could happen.

Now, though, watching the kid texting 3 different people on her phone all within a minute of each other, and IMing others, I can't help but wonder about how conversations have changed. She's fully engaged with whomever she's 'talking' to, and is capable of keeping the different threads straight. But I sometimes wonder about the quality of these 'short-burst' conversations. Yeah, I'm sure my parents wondered what in the world my friends and I could find to talk about for hours on end (well, duh-important things like who was going out with who, did you see what so-and-so was doing between classes, what are you wearing tomorrow...really important stuff). Who knows?

I also find it interesting that for the kid and her friends, conversations can be had whenever and wherever their phones are. They don't have to be in one specific place anymore...they aren't limited by how far their phone cord stretches. They can text way faster than I can...maybe because I spell my words out and they don't (OMG!! did u c that? lol).

Technology and Web 2.0 applications have changed how we interact as individuals. Time and space don't hold the same sway they used to, that's for sure. Conversations aren't limited by how far the cord stretches anymore, and in some respects, that's a good thing.


rebecca said...

I am fascinated by the way young people and technology are so enmeshed. I also grew up in an age of phones with cords, as well as no DVD's or VCR's and remember feeling the constraints of time and space--waiting for phone calls, worrying if somebody was trying to reach me and my mom or dad were using the phone, wishing I could see the Wizard of Oz at some time rather than Thanksgiving. I watch my niece and nephew, both in their twenties, and they are constantly connected to their friends. They text, IM or call somebody every few minutes. I have noticed that even though I think it is rude when they are talking to me and texting somebody else that they do seem to be able to keep both conversations straight. They answer my questions or can tell me what is going on in the movie we are watching. They do seem to be wired differently than I, who can only focus on one, at best, two things at a time. They also have a much wider community of friends and acquaintances than I ever did. The niece and nephew I mentioned live in Colorado and Florida, but they have mutual friends via their various social networks.

My own kids are 6 and 3, a little young to be texting and IM'ing, but I have noticed already a different relationship to information than I ever had. My 6 year old gets her questions answered immediately and oftentimes, in a variety of different ways. She expects that there are answers out there for everything, you just have to go to the computer to find them. As her dad and I look up cheetahs on YouTube, how deep the deepest part of the ocean is on Google, or other movies her favorite actors are in on IMDB, I am shown how much richer the world of information seems for kids today.

Michael Stephens said...

Could we say the conversations are very much the same but now they are extended and enhanced by the tools?

Good post and good comment illustrating how we are using information differently.

Lisa said...


I do think conversations are extended and enhanced by the nifty tools we have available to us now...for instance, we are having a 'conversation' of sorts right now that wouldn't have been possible too many years ago. (Mainly because I never thought I'd be blogging, lol)

I just like how we aren't bound by a specific space and time anymore (so to speak) when wanting to have conversations. For instance, right now, I'm at home at my desk, and I have no clue as to where you are...yet we can exchange ideas and all that. We don't need to be connected by a telephone wire or face to face for that to happen anymore.

As for enhanced quality...well, I'm not sure that her conversations are any better than mine were-shorter, definitely!

Lisa said...


I know what you mean about the richness of information today...sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all that I will never get the time to explore!

I can really focus on a couple of things at a time, but when necessary (often) I find that it's easier to 'download' my brain and write whatever flittering through down on paper. Whether I get back to it all is another matter altogether...

And your kid is right-there are answers out there for everything. I always told my kid,"I'm a Mom. I know everything." Now that she's older, I have to go with, "I'm a librarian. I know where to find almost everything." :)