Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Not Technological But Social and Cultural"

"The deep and enduring changes of our age are not technological but social and cultural. They are thus harder to see, for they result from the gradual accumulation of small, incremental changes in our day-to-day lives. These changes have been building for decades and are only now coming to the fore."

--Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class

Now since I read this on a "Quote of the Day" email, I'm not entirely sure what Richard Florida went on to say, but I find this quote fascinating and at least partially true. People get so sidetracked by the seeming-newness and the promise of newness that comes with technology at times, to the point where they often either claim it as a savior or blame it for everything. But when you look back in history and story, people are much the same today as they were years and years ago. They might interact a bit differently with each other and with technology--and that's fascinating. But then, so are the continuances.

Take the virtual Chia Pet for an example (see last week's post). I've always been bad at plants, so it makes sense I'd be bad at them online as well.

Or the gym (my most recent post). To be honest, I've always had a bit of trouble getting motivated to exercise when I've been slacking off at it, which is at least part of why I've had trouble staying focused in the gym. Then again, it's easier when I'm chatting with a friend while I exercise, which is hard to do in the gym environment with carefully-spaced treadmills and TVs. Or thinking, which is also difficult. Or listening to my podcasts, which must be blared over the music. So yesterday when I recognized the machines were full I zipped upstairs to the nearly-empty walking/jogging track and had a delightful long walk. And it was still inside, but it was better.

I have no idea what this says about the "deep and enduring changes of our age," but it certainly says that my motivations and difficulties of staying motivated are similar no matter the technology. But it doesn't necessarily follow that culture and society won't gradually be changed, one way or another, by a bunch of people like me enacting these motivations through a variety of kinds of technological or non-technological environments.

That change is hard to see while it's happening, but it's fun to try to capture all the same.

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