World and Mind

August 17, 2010

Anti-Social Technologies Shape Minds Too

With all of the discussion, periodic moral panics really, of how social network technologies are making us anti-social I thought it was worth thinking about how these might be contrasted with the design of city-space. The technology of the contemporary built environment – CCTV in particular – is often premised on an inherently anti-social notion of controlling the socialisation of its inhabitants and ‘defensible space’. Anna Minton’s book indicates how central ‘fortressing’ has become to the build environment and to the future of our cities and how our public spaces are no longer really public in the traditional sense at all. We are not assumed to be civilized but rather we will act civilly because we are under observation.

See my review:

http://www.culturewars.org.uk/index.php/site/article/the_new_public_space/

Just to show no let up in the ‘social network technologies make us anti-social, deranged and lonely’ argument, here’s a recent article in the guardian on loneliness and facebook.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/aug/07/social-networking-friends-lonely

By the way it is of course true that lonely people might feel lonely when looking at facebook but it’s a sort of prior mistake to assume that the number of facebook friends you have indicate much about your intimate relationships.

We  seem less inclined to think too much at the broader factors shaping our sense of social isolation as described in Minton’s book and the way that social network technologies might be as much a response to features of urban environment rather than simply causing us to feel isolated.

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