B S T R A C T
"We can't just add something as powerful as the Internet into our lives without planning for its effects."
-- Larry Rosen, co-author of TechnoStress
T is clear that the Internet is a transformative medium in our society, facilitating our access to information and stimulating our economic and social opportunities. However, as with any revolutionary influence, there are both positive and negative social effects. A pervasive techno-utopianism has neglected to point out the potentially problematic social issues that face our Internet-driven society. It is a provocative exercise to identify and realize the ramifications of a society that is constantly online and increasingly dependent on the Internet. This perspective has been termed technorealism.
According to the definition of technorealism given by www.technorealism.org:
Technorealism demands that we think critically about the role that tools and interfaces play in human evolution and everyday life. Integral to this perspective is our understanding that the current tide of technological transformation, while important and powerful, is actually a continuation of waves of change that have taken place throughout history. Looking, for example, at the history of the automobile, television, or the telephone -- not just the devices but the institutions they became -- we see profound benefits as well as substantial costs. Similarly, we anticipate mixed blessings from today's emerging technologies, and expect to forever be on guard for unexpected consequences -- which must be addressed by thoughtful design and appropriate use.
According to a recent study, the average amount of time spent using the Internet has
surged 34% within the past year. While the Internet has indisputably streamlined the way we
interact and communicate with each other, does this social minimization raise any ponderous
social concerns? Will we one day come to a point where our primary, everyday human interaction
is guided by the point and click of a mouse? Moreover, the Information Revolution, catalyzed by
the mainstream application of computers, has introduced a new question: what are the limits of
information, particularly as disseminated through the Internet? In our project, we plan to
technorealistically view the social implications of America's growing dependence on - even
obsession with - the Internet.