My Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Infinite Knowledge at my Fingertips

One never realizes how integrated technology becomes to his or her life. Sure, everyone is different, but it makes its way in one way or another. As for myself, I sleep next to my phone, checking it before and after I sleep. I look at my phone countless times during the day, assuming it isn’t already sitting in front of me or in my hand. But it seems as though my smartphone is but the simplest means to keep my mind occupied in between the significant occurrences throughout the day.

A growing number of people today have smartphones, more than likely less than two feet away at this very moment. Knowing this, can having such a vast variety of knowledge at our fingertips (quite literally) create a lazier attitude in modern society? I was skeptical at first, due to Nicholas Carr’s evaluation. Ironically enough, I got somewhat distracted about halfway through the article, possibly due to its length. This leads me to believe that the web is in fact changing the way we gather information and ideas, but I do believe it is more of an advancement rather than a deadening of human attention.

The internet seems to be crafted by the people who use it. Sure, information is readily available in countless magnitudes. But how much do we use or need? Things like Wikipedia are essentially in existence to give a quick spurt of info right when it is needed. Need to know the capital of Egypt? Just look it up on your smartphone’s Wikipedia app. If all you need is just a little piece of info, why look up an actual encyclopedia? If someone wants to know how to spell a word, it’s obviously going to be easier for most to just google it or look it up on dictionary.com. This is the kind of “smart” that is mentioned in Alva Noe’s article. I agree completely that the web has made our processes to knowledge bearing different from what previous generation’s were (or even our own back in the day), and I agree that we have adapted to a world integrated with technology.

People can say that our smartphones divert our attention away from real life, and distract us from more important things. But as technology advances, so does its impact on us. The concept of multitasking is one of the glorious luxuries that the web seems to offer. Sitting in a library, one has to get up and search for a book, which will undoubtedly contain more than enough information, alas introducing an overwhelming amount of unneeded information. Even looking through articles online takes effort and time. Being able to look something up online in an instant saves time, effort, and allows you to stay focused on the original task (whether it be a blog post or an argument with a friend). Smartphones may seem like a terrible way to get distracted and start multitasking, but I think it does the opposite. Our technology is made to help us, and make life easier (and possibly more entertaining). Our smartphones can help us stay focused by giving us what we need to know when we need it (directions, definitions, names, prices, etc.). Rather than making ourselves move away from the habits of multitasking such as driving and talking on the phone, we are simply making our technologies make it easier for us to accomplish.

I thought this was a rather interesting list relating to technology and you (the viewer)

http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/20-ways-technology-is-changing-our-lives-26870103.html

I suppose I’ll leave you all here with a couple questions:

Do you think our technologies play a bigger role in our lives than we may think? (Do you do more with your iPhone than play fruit ninja?) Do you think that our technologies make it harder for us to pay attention to “real life”? Or have they maybe become part of “real life” in a sense?

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23 thoughts on “My Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy; Infinite Knowledge at my Fingertips

  1. Technology definitely plays a massive role today in people’s lives. I would say more than we realize too. There is a reliance on our technology and devices. Like you said yourself, your phone stays right next to you. It’s the last thing you look at and the first thing you check when you get up. Though these devices are helpful for quick answers, the dependency is there. I would say people take it for granted. If a teenager’s phone was taken away for a day, they would probably freak out. I think the technologies do make it harder to focus on real life. I mean it’s sad to say, but when I hang out with my friends, half of them will be on their phones. It makes me wonder how they enjoy things in life when they are constantly on their phones. Sometimes it is nice to just put those devices away and enjoy life. It is a lot less stressful and more fun.

  2. I’d definitely agree that the Internet is capable of taking time away from our physical lives, but I’m not sure how much of that relates to technology and multitasking.

    I’ve just spent a good part of a week distracted by something on the Internet, but it wasn’t the latest app or anything like that. It was an online novel: tens of thousands of words of text, using the same techniques as a physical book would to draw me in.

    The Internet certainly made it easier to find, and easier to keep reading (no need to go to the library for the second volume), but I don’t think the underlying distraction was really technology.

  3. I believe people can get way too caught up in their phone and gadgets and they don’t seem to realize that they aren’t truly enjoying what they are doing at that moment. For example, I read an article about a guy who does an experiment with IPhone apps to let other people know his exact location. (http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/17-02/lp_guineapig?currentPage=all) However, he soon discovered that he was so focused on his phone and letting other people know where he was that he became more and more distance from his friends.

    Yes, it is true that most of us use our phones for productivity, such as checking emails, reading, and updating our statuses on Facebook and Twitter, but I think some people have forgotten how to truly sit back and enjoy themselves without picking up their cell phones, which is sad, but technology is a true temptation for some people and they have to have it.

  4. Of course technology plays a huge role in our lives. I think we all know it has such a big impact on us in our lives, but sometimes it’s just so natural to always be up to date with the technology that we forget it. I use my iPhone for just about everything. Not only to talk and text, but also for Instagram, to play games, read the news, check my email, and of course take pictures. I think it’s good that technology keeps evolving, because it makes it easier for us to have everything in one device.

    I do think it can become a challenge for us to pay attention to what is actually going on around us in the world. Sometimes we are just so caught up with what we are doing on our phones that we forget to pay attention to the real world. They are apart of our real lives, but they have much more of an impact in our lives than they should.

  5. I do think that technologies play a bigger role in our lives than we may think. As you said in your post, most people always have their phone by them and like you my phone is the last thing I check before I go to bed and the first thing I check when I wake up. I think that it’s a bad habit, and it makes me think what did people do before cell phones/smartphones existed? My iPhone is so much more than just a phone for me. I can do anything I want on it, check my emails, tweet, shop online, and so much more.

    I think that in our world today, technologies have become a part of “real life” but they can be distractions. I’m sure that 20 years ago professors never had to ask students to get off their phones and pay attention, whereas today they do. In the fast paced world we live in today these advances in technology help us keep up, and without them how could we expect to grow?

  6. I definitely think technology plays a bigger role in our lives than most people think. Almost all aspects of life now have a connection to technology. Communication, relationships, journalism, transportation, entertainment, are just a few things that have been taken over by technology. I use my iPhone for everything. I use it to play games, to talk to family and friends, as a navigation system, as a mp3 player, as a notepad, etc. I have even used it as a airline ticket when checking in for a flight. I do that think technology, like phones, have made it harder for us to pay attention in real life. However, much of real life is now on our phones, so it has become a part of real life.

  7. To be honest, I feel like I can’t live without technology right now, so I kind of realize how much technology plays in my life. As you mentioned, I have my phone literally right next to me, I’m typing this comment on my laptop, and I also have my tablet right next to me because it is charging in my laptop. The only time I really have to deal with not using these everyday gadgets for me is when I go up north to my cottage, where I don’t have an internet connection. So, then I’m more tempted to go outside and have fun as opposed to now, where I’m sitting at home and have the internet to do all sorts of stuff with.

  8. To answer the first question I believe that a technology, if it is an apt solution to a human need or desire, will eventually become fully integrated into our lives. For example consider the use of automotive transportation in America. There are over 200 million drivers in the U.S. For many people, it is a necessity to drive or be driven (e.g. by a city bus or taxi) in order to get to work, school, etc. Likewise, I believe that computer and internet technology is becoming a necessity to our everyday lives. The need/want that it answers: Our desire to gain information. Whether academically (scholarly articles or research papers), socially (Facebook or Twitter), or mere curiosity, humans are in pursuit of knowledge.

    To answer the second question, I do think that technology has shortened our attention span. It has for me at the very least. Is this a bad thing? Is it a detriment that we can no longer scour over countless books to retrieve information? Maybe. However, if we have nearly infinite information source readily available at all times, it may not be necessary to do so. We are still in a transition period in which we are changing the way we gain knowledge. This leads to the disagreement between what is “real life” and what isn’t. I believe that the use of the internet (skimming for facts, online friends, microblogging) is all becoming a part of our “real lives”.

  9. I use my phone for just about everything. I do homework occasionally, i pay all my bills, organize dates and plans, and plan my week. I feel like if people were to be without their phones for say a month, they wouldn’t know what to do. Take it a little further back, how many younger people today actually know how to write a check out? Most just pay it online using their bank information. Which is why technology is distracting from real life. You can get lost in your phone or laptop for hours and not even realize it. I feel in a way this is necessary though, because things have adapted to this way of life. Everything can be done online, and even some news stations conduct interviews and such using internet services like Skype.

  10. I think technology is one of the most important factors in mainstream human society today. If one is connected, and wants to be connected on a global scale the use of technology is completely necessary. Personally, I use my phone for a lot of simple task, and most of the time it is is in my hand or right by my side. It is impossible to hide the fact that technology is and will become more apart of human life in the future.

    I do think technology can take away a vital part of human emotion and connection. When people gather or have any sort of discussion in this day and age it usually involves some sort of technological presence. Even when people do have real interactions it seems like the documenting of these events on social networks has become the norm.

    It is more difficult for people to pay attention to a conversation or do anything without the use of a smartphone, tablet or device similar. So technology will continue to be integrated into daily life more and more in the future.

  11. Technology plays a huge role in our lives. I can only speak for myself and I know that I have always been aware of the role technology plays in mine. I feel naked without my phone almost as if I am not connected to the world in some way. When the internet goes down I find myself doing everything I can to get back online. I find that technology has become so much a part of my life that it has become “real life”. It is a source of entertainment and knowledge. I can’t imagine life without the internet and smart phones because this is how it has always been for me. Technology has given us the ability to multitask but that isn’t specific today’s technology. Yes texting while driving makes it harder to pay attention to the road but so does changing the radio station. I’d personally rather listen to a navigation system than have to try and read a map while driving. I believe we as a society have to accept the good and the bad when it comes to technology because it has become a part of “real life”. Smart phones aren’t going away anytime soon and it is up to us to be responsible when using them.

  12. I would have to say that technology does play a huge role in the lives of most people within our society. It takes on many forms depending on the person, but there are things which have fundamentally changed the way humans do things on a grand scale. Cell phones alone have allowed easy access to people, information, and news unlike never before. Here’s a good article about the smartphones mark on our world.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/reviews/101-gadgets-that-changed-the-world-mobile-smartphone#slide-101

    Social media has allowed people to feel connected even when completely isolated since before I can remember. These advanced technologies have to a certain extent become part of real life. Some of these activities are still not fully integrated to the point where they don’t make you feel like a lonely computer geek though. Playing some videogames and constantly checking Facebook tend to make people isolated.

  13. I believe the jury is still out on this one. Whether or not technologies create an environment that makes it more difficult to pay attention is still being weighed. In the list of “20 ways technology is changing our lives” http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/20-ways-technology-is-changing-our-lives-26870103.html
    is pretty scary and to think that these technologies can churn out cyber sex stalkers, who can’t read a map, yet can still find their prey with a smart phone GPS, or digital daters who have no problem finding mates on-line but will have to converse via text, due to the lost art of conversation.

    We as humans have an innate ability to adapt and we will find a way to integrate this era of technologies into our lives without us evolving into something we are not.

  14. Technology plays a huge part of our everyday lives. Almost everything now requires some form of technologu, whether its checking e-mail, taking a class or playing games. I do think that it can take us away from real life. I mean people dont communicate the same as they did before texting and email was around. It has taken the intimacy of relationships away. Also some people get so caught up on the internet that they neglect the basics of life. People go without eating, paying bills and taking care of their families because they are playing Candy Crush Saga, watching videos on WorldStar. But while this is true it has become part of real life. It has become the norm for people to sit in a room full of friends and everyone has their phone or tablet, some even texting other’s in the same room. Technology has us hooked

  15. I feel as though technology is starting to integrate itself into our daily life, but I don’t think it’s in a good way. For example, you can’t go anywhere nowadays without hearing the familiar “buzz buzz” of the Iphone alert or seeing someone whipping out their smart phone to check something out. However, I think this is starting to hurt our face-to-face communication skills. No longer can we stand the “awkward silence” that pops up in conversations with people. Now, people just whip out their phone and pretend to check something or look something up until the conversation gets going again.
    Also, I 100% agree with the article we read that having all of this information at the tip our fingers is hurting us. We now have the attention span of babies due to the way the internet has shaped our brains. If an article is more than a page or two (and that’s pushing it for some people), we maybe read the first paragraph or two and then skim the rest or don’t read it at all. We want fast, handy, in your face information. We want to skip the fluff and just get straight to the facts. At first I didn’t think that this was really happening to us, but after I read the article about it, I came to the sad conclusion that it really is affecting us. Even myself, who is an avid reader of long novels and stories, find myself struggling to sit down and just focus on a book or article, especially if it’s something I’m not interested in.
    Overall, I think we desperately need to see the reality that this technology is hurting us and we’re overlooking it. We need to learn how to properly use what we have, not abuse it and then end up hurting our brains more in the end.

  16. I cannot go more than a few seconds with some form of technology to interact with. Everything in our lives that we take for granted today was once new and revolutionary. Technology is a hard thing to describe when does something stop being technology and just become normal? That is the question that needs to be answered before we can decide what role technology plays in our lives.
    Technology is real life, my iPhone exists just as I do or anything else in this world. I will admit that sometimes it distracts us from the things that previous generations would consider more important than a phone, but what most digital immigrants do not realize is the ability for digital natives to be doing several things at once. I can be reading an article while having a conversation with you and be invested in both activities. Most people from previous generations believe that you are ignoring them if you do not stop what you are doing and stare them in the eye. I personally have had issues with communications in the workplace because of the fact that I am about 20 years younger than a majority of my coworkers and our generations communicate on a much different system. The composition of our emails is night and day and how we speak is almost as different. I tend to be short and concise, eliminating extraneous details, I deliver the facts and what needs to happen. My older colleagues like to draw things out, embellish, and be more long winded. It leads to some strange email chains as you bounce back and forth between the two styles of communicating.
    Although our smart phones and computers offer a world of ways to distract us I thing they provide way more services than digital immigrants see, or want to admit.

  17. Yes, I do think technology plays a huge role in society today, and perhaps a role that’s too big. When people think of the future, they think of “flying cars” but has no one stopped and wondered — why do we even need flying cars? I am perplexed by many technological advances of today… I understand switching from VHS to DVD, but why Blu Ray? And what’s going to come next, and why?

    Don’t get me wrong. I do more on my phone then play fruit Ninja. I hate to admit that I am addicted to checking Twitter and Instagram. If I’ve got a free second, it’s as though my mind is programmed to check. Thankfully for me, those are just two social networking sites (and two that you are forced not to spend too much time on.)

    I do think that in ways, technology makes it harder for us to pay attention in real life. As an aspiring Journalist, I find it sad that nobody wants to read the paper anymore, and even blog posts have to be kept to a minimum.

    But you know what they say, it just aint like it used to be.

  18. For me, I know technology plays a big role in my life. I remember I had broken my phone and I wasn’t able to get a new one for a couple days. I had no idea what to do with myself. I was kind of going crazy without it. When you’re used to having a smart phone attached to your hip, it’s like a part of you has left when it’s not with you. (That’s how I felt lol)
    I use technology for everything. I believe is has become part of our real life in a sense. Everything around us is adapting to the rapid changes with technology. You do anything through a smart phone or computer nowadays. You can even order pizza online.

  19. I love the fact that I can wake up, look at my phone, and have a wide variety of news sources at my finger tips. Granted, I don’t always use my phone for the most productive purposes, but it definitely keeps me informed and up to date about what’s going on in the world.

    The downside to having all of that information is the fact that we’re never unplugged. I always feel the need to constantly check my phone throughout the day. If not I feel like I’m missing out on something if I don’t. It’s also that way right before I sleep. I always have to check “one more thing,” which usually turns into ten different things and ends with me being up hours later than I intended.

    To answer your question, technology has definitely become a part of our “real” lives. People use social media to post about major life events, even before telling loved ones in person. In the same sense, people use it for posting their photos of the pb&j sandwich they had for dinner. It’s interesting how important a role it plays in our day to day lives.

    I try to keep my phone off or away for most of the time on vacations, but it’s pretty difficult sometimes. Once I get used to not having it, however, it’s pretty refreshing. 🙂

  20. Smart phones are amazing little handheld computers. While I don’t own one myself, I have used one and have been astounded by the functionality and their seemingly endless uses. However, I believe this constant access to media and a shiny screen offered by technology has deadened our collective attention spans as well as our ability to wait. There’s a chunky line between using smartphones to keep abreast of breaking news and using them to cheat at bar trivia. Yes, that’s right, I have witnessed bar trivia fraud. I believe it’s up to us humans to demonstrate a measure of self-discipline in our internet usage. My little cousin doesn’t know how to use a dictionary because her parents allow her to ask siri for the definitions of her spelling words.

  21. Smart phones and the internet have become part of the way we live and the way we access information(http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/design/smartphone-invasion-changed-our-lives/). The majority of students who have smart phones have the financial resources to buy a smart phone; they will use the smart phone as a way to help them find information quickly and not for random things. I have a smart phone and I use it for many things, ex. MapQuest, emails, searching for information, an alarm clock, etc…. However, if I have a research project, I prefer going to the library, checking out a book, and looking for the information that I need. I believe you get more information about a topic when you research something by reading a printed book versus only looking up the answer on the internet.
    The smart phone as you mention in your blog has advantages and disadvantages. For example if I am going somewhere, I don’t print the directions from MapQuest; instead, I use the GPS application from my smart phone. The bad part is when your over-use this device; for example, you shouldn’t text while you’re driving(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMNx0Q8t9so) or text while you are in class either.
    Technology plays a big role in how we communicate, more than what we think; for example, this class is offered over the internet by using Twitter. If it weren’t for the internet, we would be in a classroom.

  22. Smart phones and the internet have become part of the way we live and the way we access information. The majority of students who have smart phones have the financial resources to buy a smart phone; they will use the smart phone as a way to help them find information quickly and not for random things. I have a smart phone and I use it for many things, ex. MapQuest, emails, searching for information, an alarm clock, etc…. However, if I have a research project, I prefer going to the library, checking out a book, and looking for the information that I need. I believe you get more information about a topic when you research something by reading a printed book versus only looking up the answer on the internet.
    The smart phone as you mention in your blog has advantages and disadvantages. For example if I am going somewhere, I don’t print the directions from MapQuest; instead, I use the GPS application from my smart phone. The bad part is when your over-use this device; for example, you shouldn’t text while you’re driving or text while you are in class either.
    Technology plays a big role in how we communicate, more than what we think; for example, this class is offered over the internet by using Twitter. If it weren’t for the internet, we would be in a classroom.

  23. I think technology has become so seamlessly integrated with our day to day lives that many people barely notice. Like you said, most of us always have a smartphone within reach and I definitely believe it has changed the way we collect and store knowledge. Personally, I rely on my phone to research any given topic simply because its convenient and easy.

    As far as whether or not its affecting our attention spans I think it does to some extent. Some people are so engaged in social media that it affects their ability to stay off their phones while out in public. Most of our generation is guilty of doing this to some extent and it’s definitely one of the negative aspects of recent technologies. I think the future of communication should focus on incorporating technologies in a more engaging way that doesn’t confine someone to looking down at a small screen.

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