Museums,Technology, Life

Technology Based LifeI would like to share with you my response to the first chapter of the book Networked Publics titled “Place: The Networking of Public Space” by Kazys Varnelis and Anne Friedberg, and what I think the role of Museums would be in the future in response to a technology-based life.

How new technologies are affecting human relationships and social structure? As human beings we have always been part of social groups and I wonder how technology is changing this. Is this human disconnection created by technological connection going to turn us into a kind of hermit with no private lives and no personal relationships?  Or are we maybe going to become nomads again?

Cell phones have brought about significant changes at many different levels. As stated in Networked Publicseven working and meeting schedules are more flexible because we have the opportunity to call and tell we are running late. But from my personal experience more relevant changes have occurred in developing countries. Places where rural and poor people never had a telephone because companies wouldn’t go that far away or risk not to get paid, suddenly had the opportunity to connect to the world. The appearance of the cell phone and pay-as-you-go plans gave these people the opportunity to communicate with the rest of the world for first time and in some sense to belong to a society bigger than their small towns or neighborhoods. They finally could be part of the exterior world.

But in the same way cell phones had the capacity to integrate communities into the world, they also have a bigger capacity to disintegrating human physical contact. We have arrived to a point where we don’t even want to hear each other’s voice. We can just text each other. There is no need to create a physical connection. But as human beings we need to touch and we need to be touche. It is part of a healthy life. I can understand now why some movie writers would imagine the future of the world as a place where people won’t even touch each other to have sex.  But I wonder if this isolation is the consequence of technology taking people apart or the reaction of people trying to get back their personal space and get away from a live overload with technology. The question here is: Is technology isolating us from people or is it taking away our personal space and moments?  I think the answer is both. We don’t have more time for ourselves but we are fewer and fewer in direct contact with other people. People expect us to be working, informed and available all the time just because technology has given us the possibility to do it, but it has also taken away our right to rest and have those spaces in live so important to be with ourselves, reflect and even pray. I remember a business man telling me how upset he was because airplanes have internet now and his boss was expecting him to work on the airplane while before he could have this time for himself.  Is this global connection disconnecting us from ourselves?

Another interesting relationship is the way communication can transform architecture. As Victor Hugo stated the book changed the way architecture was used as a communicative surface. Are new technologies and ways of communication going to change the relationship between architecture an humans in more deeply ways?

When internet appeared we were wondering if office spaces, stores and restaurants would become obsolete by the fact that you could do everything from home and send it by internet and also get everything from the net. But now with mobile internet and mobile technologies, I wonder… is our house going to become obsolete?

If telecocoons have given the possibility to create their own worlds completely divorced from a physical architecture, can technology lead us to a divorce from it as a permanent place to live? If we can carry our work, our connections, our communications, our games, and our diversions in a small cell phone inside our pockets all over the world, why would we need a house?  Could it be possible that we go back to the time when men were nomads? Traveling now is easier and more affordable and technologies give us the possibility to stay connected to the world no matter where we are. Maybe the future residential projects will become hospitality projects and hotels would become our virtual homes. Instead of bringing our bags full of stuff we will bring our cell phones full of connections.

Now the question that rises is: What is going to be the role of museums in a so connected and at the same time so detached world?  In a world where people will lose their connection with themselves and where physical connection with other people and spaces will be irrelevant, museums will offer a space for reflection and reconnection with us and also a physical space to promote physical connections between people while learning and amusing ourselves.  In a world where people see themselves just as part of a global network, museums will still be part of the network but will bring people together again and will recreate a sense of society and a sense of belonging to the human race and not only to a technological network. No matter where we are, museums will be the space to escape from virtual life and reconnect with real life.

Maria Antonia Villegas

4 responses to “Museums,Technology, Life

  1. Great post. Technology has always shaped the way we relate to each other and how we experience the world. This history begins with the plough, or perhaps even before. Our whole idea of our community belonging to a specific place in the world goes back to agriculture and settlement. This was possible only with technology. Before that we were basically nomadic foragers. What is important is to come to an understanding of how to use technology in beneficial ways. Same goes for technology in the museum. In the end I think your post is less about technology than it is about connections. As you say, museums are great places to connect technologically or otherwise.

    Here is an amusing but scary show from the 70s on our society’s overwhelming reliance on technology and the very tenuous nature of things as they are ‘connected’.

  2. I really enjoyed your opinions on the future and technology and fully agree that the technological wave is changing literally every aspect of our lives. I also agree that the museum will become, like it already is, a place of rest and safe haven. People will come to escape the digital world and connect with other visitors. One issue I am concerned with however is the overwhelming interest of technology from the museum itself. For example, the Brooklyn Museum allows self guided and written podcasts. What happens if technology also takes over this area as well? Self guided podcasts are very informative and provided a completely new experience in the museum. But what happens when the self guided tour detaches us so far from the other visitors and even the museum as a whole? I really like the concept of the self guided tour, and other interesting technological interactions within the museum setting, my concern is though that it the line will be crossed. There has to be a happy medium where museums engage with technology, but never let its presence dominate or disturb the setting.


  3. The James Burke series, “Trigger Effect” is scary but so fascinating. He touches on so many interesting points about our society, where we came from and where we are going. He says that “never have so many people understood so little about so much.” We put our trust in technology – perhaps to a bad extent. We comfortably wrap ourselves in this warm blanket of technology, but is this really a form of protection? Can we survive something that we don’t necessary fully understand?

    We have come to take so many things in this world for granted and seem to completely overlook the consequences of our actions. We willingly walk into a technological trap on a daily basis,whether it be a car, subway, elevator, bus, etc.

    The blackout in the northeast a while back is such a great example of our dependence on technology. Instantly we were reverted back to a time of candlelight and human interaction. The blackout was forgotten within days, and people continued on with their daily routines as if nothing had happened. What if the power did not come back for a week? Would people survive? Would we be able to start from scratch?

  4. Blackouts are a great example of our dependency on technology, one of my favorite times was during a blackout because everyone came together and played board games and talked verse using the TV or computer.

    There was a blackout in Washington State that lasted over a week, people had to cook outside forcing them to meet neighbors they never really meet before, people in general stayed outside more for the light, and a far more apparent community emerged.

    Technology has the power and influence to isolate us from other people, yet I think people still carve and need physical human interaction. I know when I do not see people for a while I feel like I am missing something. At times, I feel that we give technology to much credit in our society.

    Museums need to understand that people still do need human interaction and that technology can greatly hinder that. Museums could use technology as a possible starting point or a way to link people together, but in the end, technology can only go so far. The focus needs to be on bringing communities together to create new experiences.

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