The NY Times is running a story about a soon-to-be released app that embeds real-time, 3D chat spaces into existing web pages, like your blog, or your Facebook profile. The premise of the article is that the pendulum has swung too far toward asynchronous communication on the web (think blog comments or the Facebook Wall), and that users yearn for a live chat experience. Personally, I'm not sure - almost the entire point of Facebook in my world, for example, is that it allows me to spend very little time and energy to maintain my weak ties. If I wanted a live chat, I'd pick up the phone (which I rarely do). Which begs the question, what demographic is the live chat aimed at? Pew Internet has some interesting, fairly recent data that might shed a little light: 91% of teenagers use social network sites to stay in touch with friends they see often, so perhaps it'll be useful for that. On the other hand, other recent Pew data suggest that the (gasp!) the landline and the cell phone are the top two choices for teens who communicate with friends daily. Curious to see where live chat embedded in web pages will fit in.
March 2008 Archives
Just came across an interesting post on Remixing Anthropology - an abstract of a talk on using the vast amounts of digital data that are stored in our travels on the web, on cell phones, etc. for anthropological research. It made me think of a couple of things, including a project that I keep hearing about - David Buckingham and Rebekah Willett's research on "people's everyday uses of video camcorders in domestic settings," which basically gives out video cameras to people and asks them to make a record of what they do with the camera. You could also say that Mimi Ito's Digital Youth project - a large scale ethnography of youth's out of school technology practices - deals with the mundane, as well. I think this type of work is important in that it begins to puncture some of the hype surrounding the discourse of new technologies - "oooh, looky what the kids these days are doing!" that tends to focus on the exceptional, running the risk of overstating the issue, and/or marginalizing alternative practices that don't fit within the discourse. Pushing back against the hype is something I try to do in my research, as well, and I wonder - is perhaps the pendulum beginning to swing the other way? Or will the hype discourse continue with each new technology that's released on the market?
I'm very excited to report that I'll be joining the faculty in the Department of Educational Technology and Literacy (rather serendipitous overlap with my interests, no?) at Towson University in the fall! I'll be teaching classes at the undergraduate and grad levels, advising primarily doctoral students, and working with a group of colleagues who have already been supportive in terms of facilitating the transition from grad student to faculty member. (If you have advice on that whole transition thing, do share!) In the meantime, I "just" have to finish my dissertation (I swear, if one more person says that to me I'm gonna explode)... But it's going well, and I'm feeling energized. Here's to the light at the end of the tunnel!