Texture : Human Expression in the Age of Communications Overload
Our workdays are so filled with emails, instant messaging, and RSS feeds that we complain that there's not enough time to get our actual work done. At home, we are besieged by telephone calls on landlines and cell phones, the beeps that signal text messages, and work emails on our BlackBerrys. It's too much, we cry (or type) as we update our Facebook pages, compose a blog post, or check to see what Shaquille O'Neal has to say on Twitter. In Texture, Richard Harper asks why we seek out new ways of communicating even as we complain about communication overload. Harper explores the interplay between technological innovation and socially creative ways of exploiting technology, between our delight in using new forms of communication and our vexation at the burdens this places on us, and connects these to what it means to be human--alive, connected, expressive--today. He describes the mistaken assumptions of developers that "more" is always better--that videophones, for example, are better than handhelds--and argues that users prefer simpler technologies that allow them to create social bonds. Communication is not just the exchange of information. There is a texture to our communicative practices, manifest in the different means we choose to communicate (quick or slow, permanent or ephemeral). The goal, Harper says, should not be to make communication more efficient, but to supplement and enrich the expressive vocabulary of human experience.