Emerging Technology

BEST OF THE WEB: How technology is erasing your ability to live in silence

Patrick Stafford /

The advancement of technology has meant losing a lot of privacy, but also, a lot of silence. Smartphones invade movie theatres, meetings and family dinners. Apps like Twitter require constant engagement.

Stories of those who can’t switch off are common.

But as this new piece over at The Awl explains, the situation is going even further than that. The concept of “quiet enjoyment”, as the piece explains, is facing an almost certain death of the current situation continues.

The ability to simply go to a movie and enjoy silence, it explains, is under threat.

“It’s like that “joke” that everyone old enough to remember rotary phones thought up simultaneously, the first time they encountered a person in a public place—walking down the sidewalk, in line at an ATM—having a conversation via a mobile phone: “Why, without close inspection, it’s impossible to distinguish that person from an escaped lunatic talking to himself.”

“People communicate everywhere, because they can. The future is here, a future in which everyone talks to everyone else near-constantly.”

This problem has been exacerbated recently. A tech entrepreneur recently blogged about a movie theatre hypothetical experiment which could allow people to use their phones and tablets.

But the problem goes beyond just that. The explosion of social media means even the quiet things we enjoy doing are being talked about – like watching a television show. We feel the need to be constantly in the conversation. Even ads suggesting you to do so are shown during the shows themselves.

“It’s about fellowship, of varying degrees, which is to say that it’s about loneliness. A really scary loneliness. Not like: will you die alone and unloved? More like: will your existence go unvalidated in the 42 minutes of entertainment you’re about to consume? Maybe those are the same question, just contextually different by degrees.”
There have been plenty of pieces written about the need to unplug, and how it can be beneficial to both the body and the mind. This piece is a good reminder that this issue is only ever going to get worse.

What Twitter will look like after going public

Twitter announced this week it had filed for an IPO, although the details of the filing so far remain private.

But the filing raises an excellent question – what will the company look like after it goes public? Buzzfeed has attempted to paint a picture of the business after floating, and it’s definitely an interesting one.

For one thing, it says, Twitter will stay mostly the same, but will become more visual. Users will start seeing more things, such as ads, in their feeds, although these ads will become more targeted to the specific individuals reading them.

“Twitter will also create the first modern way to invest directly in news volume. Twitter will sell more ads during big news and media events, a fact that will not be lost of Twitter’s potential investors. And you can only imagine the boiler-room stock pitches to retail investors.”

We don’t know anything about the Twitter IPO, but this is a good first crack at what the business might look like before long.

What online content is keeping you unemployed?

Job applicants are screened through social media and the internet – it’s just a fact of hiring life these days.

This article over at Mashable delves into what type of content is keeping people out of a job and stuck in the realms of online. It’s a topical piece of content, and useful for both employers and employees.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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