I just came back from catching a presentation done by a multimedia class. I’m sorry I missed the beginning and the rest of the presentations as this was quite enlightening. In a project called Lifecasting, students filmed a number of reactions to situations. I was most enthralled by two scenarios which filmed people staging things left behind/being stolen and invasions of personal space in a public atmosphere. In the cases where people left items behind or staged a theft, the people around them were generally oblivious to the action happening. Why? Because they were on their cell phones or staring at their computers. The same occurred when people invaded personal space – computer screens seemed to act as a barrier to the actions and conversations around them. I find it fascinating that we’ve used social technology such as cell phones and computers and use them in such anti-social ways, blocking out the world outside our small personal world.
This has implications for work on a reference desk. I know I am tied to my computer and while I try to look up and keep an eye out for people needing assistance, I wonder how many I’ve missed because I’m using technology as a barrier. I will certainly try to be more aware of my surroundings while I’m using technology.