Week 4: Ultrahouse 3000

Okay, so maybe it’s not quite that advanced, but the networked home is advancing and with the eventual mass implementation of the internet of things, we might actually be facing the emergence of the fully online, fully automated house sometime within our lifetime. Before that, though, we will face the networked home.

Essentially, this concept identifies the contemporary phenomena where networks, be they the larger internet or local, have infiltrated the modern home. Effectively, connecting every computer, screen, speaker and media intermediary in your house to a larger network. If you’ve read my cribs post then you’ll know your way around my personal network and know that I’m a pretty big fan of the networked home. How though does my father feel about this? In keeping with the task of the week, I’ve returned to the subject of the television interview to query how the networked home is “changing television space or other practices in [the] household”.

My Fathers first response, after hearing an explanation of the networked home:

“Ooo, you should reference that episode of The Simpsons where the house is HAL and it tries to kill Homer. Seems appropriate.”

Dads and their suggestions. Pfft. Moving on.

I suppose that my home isn’t really networked at all. I mean, I don’t have the internet here anymore, just the 4G on my phone and I use that on my tablet… I guess the only way it’s really changed the ‘media dynamic’ of my living room is by letting me use my tablet while I’m watching the TV. I’ll do that, check out tv guides or read news in adds, maybe during boring bits of shows… I still get pretty much all of my viewing from TV broadcasts though. Sorry, this probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for.”

This is about all I can get out of my father relevant to the topic. The rest of the conversation was either me explaining what the task was or him calling me a nerd. Bloody Dad.

I got what I needed though, specifically with his mention of using multiple screens at the same time. More than anything, this has been the greatest influence the networked home has had on modern home media consumption. Specifically in relation to the television, the networking of the home has allowed multiple screens to permeate the home. Individuals now have the ability to split their attention between multiple screens displaying completely different data streams. As much as my father would claim that his home isn’t, as long as their are devices receiving data from larger networks then his home is networked.

This leads us in turn to the notion outlined in this weeks TED talk. The idea that, through larger networks, even when we are seemingly alone, we are never disconnected from other individuals.

Tuckle explains, among a great deal, the concept of being alone surrounded by other people if we choose to devote attention to our screens. In the same speech, though, she explains the notion of constant connection through larger networks and the appeal these have. In her worlds, “We’re lonely… and so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.”

In that same talk though, Turkle outlines that through this constant interconnectedness, we as humans are seeking, and indeed achieving, perpetual company – albeit, as she claims, cyber and shallow.

If we are to take the things that we learn in class this week, when we start with my father he would at first appear to be alone in an un-networked house. Applying the principles of the week though, specifically those outlines by Turkle, we can gather that he is neither of those things. He, just as much as anyone, is patched in and, in the greatest effect of the networked home, he is not alone.

Oooo, that sounds like a horror move tag line. A really long, convoluted one, sure, but a spooky tagline none the less.

References

Turkle, S 2012, “Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?”, Video, February 2012, TED, viewed 17/8/16 http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together

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