The ever changing and ever evolving media is seen through the development of mobile media (Fidler, 1997). As technology changes inevitably so does society. As Bell discusses “technological determination” where by technology impact society as driving the development and social cultural value, as for example the word “text addict” developed through the use of mobile phones and the SMS function (Bell, 2007).
The wide spread impact of new mobile technology is evident in the case of corrupt Kenyan police officers who would demand their bribes to be paid by mobile banking than cash out of convenience (Morozov, 2011). This exemplifies that for any tool needed is covered just as long as you are equipped with one working smart phone… with of course the relevant downloaded apps!
This story is also a prime example of technological convergence, where Fidler explains that for a new technology to be successful it needs to be familiar (1997). To investigate, a mobile phone replaces many old, familiar devices. With a mobile phone you no longer need a television, stereo, map or in the example previously explained; money. For technology to be constantly evolving it seems there is a need to be implementing more and more appliances into one device (Fidler, 1997). However, what will happen once we have exhausted all routes on what other appliances we can implement? What if one of the new appliances they will include was… us? After all, what is more familiar than ourselves and our own reality?
Augmented Reality (AR), in which the user’s real environment is altered by technology and adding new images, sound or video (Economic Review, 2013), ultimately adding new layers to our real environment. An example of AR are the “Google Glasses” which is predicted to be a success in 2014 (Hyman, 2013). Despite this, Kipper is cynical of the development claiming that it is limited in that it is only advantageous if the user can use it swiftly and it would be more convenient to obtain information manually (Kipper, 2012).
One of the uses of “Google Glasses” is for tourists to access information on the location they situated in (Hyman, 2013). If the user is looking for a near by restaurant, they are able to access through their glasses the closest restaurant. This shows how the user will adopt the augmented reality of accessing information, rather than adopting their own real environment and exploring to find a nearby restaurant without aid. What this shows is that if a restaurant is not evident and exists on Google, it does not exist in the user’s reality. As Buchanen- Oliver suggests this can cause friction between “control and freedom” (2009:368), this is shown here whereby the user is controlled to explore only what is visible on Google.
Additionally, Hyman proposes that soon the “Google Glasses” will soon be passé and the clunky visibly seen technology will soon be developed into contact lenses (Hyman, 2013). The disguised technology naturalises the implement and gives the illusion it is embodied with us. This, I believe, gives the impression that the technology is innate.
Negroponte challenges that all technologies comply of three industries: Broadcast and Motion Picture Industry, Print and Publishing Industry and Computer Industry (quoted by Fidler, 1999). As previously illustrated before, media and thus for society is forever changing, resulting in perhaps there is a fourth element that three industries will now be complied into- humans.
This is arguably evident with contact lenses that allows the individual to access information seamlessly. Blurring the boundaries between humans and computers in which Pepperell describes as “Post Human” and insinuates the human itself without technology is made redundant (1995:180). By blurring the boundaries, we are not falling into a binary opposition of “Human” and “Machine”, which Hayles argues reinforces the divide between “us” and them” (Hayles quoted by Buchanen- Oliver, 1999). So it raises the question, will we soon be discriminated on how natural, and human we are and instead strive to be as augmented and processed as possible? Is this the new race war?
UPDATE! Please check out blog post Cyborgs Part 2, where I investigate “post-humans” in more depth!
Bell, David (2007). Cyberculture Theorists: Manuel Castells and Donna Haraway. London: Routledge.
Buchanan-Oliver, Margo. (2009). The Body and Technology: Discourses Shaping Consumer Experience and Marketing Communications of Technological Products and Services. . Advances in Consumer Research. 36 (5), p367-371.
Economic Review. (2013). Augmented Reality – Making Existence Larger than Life. Available: http://www.economic-review.com.pk/may-2013/augmented-reality-making-existence-larger-than-life. Last accessed 9th Dec 2013.
Fidler, Roger (1997). Mediamorphosis: Understanding New Media. California: Pine Forge Press.
Kipper, Gregory (2013). Augmented Reality: An Emerging Technologies Guide to AR. USA: Syngress.
Hyman, Paul. (2013). Augmented-Reality Glasses Bring Cloud Security Into Sharp Focus. Communications of the ACM. 56 (6), 18-20.
Pepperell, Robert (1995). The Post-human Condition. Bristol: Intellect LTD.