The Mountain Man pointed me a few days ago to this PBS documentary. As soon as I clicked the link, I knew it was the kind of thing I would enjoy watching. And about 17 minutes in, the camera turned to South Korea. Not that I was waiting, but I wasn’t surprised either. Recently, works on this topic invariably include the country, picturing it as a collective of geeks. 🙂
A couple of examples off the top of my head:
- CNN’s Eye on South Korea (2007)
- Ahonen and O’Reilly’s Digital Korea (2007)
- The Gadget Show’s East vs West episode (2009)
This time, a considerable portion of time was dedicated to a Web addiction rehab centre – something briefly mentioned on this blog too. If you wondered how such institutions actually work, this programme is a taster.
Looking at those digitally addicted youngsters at the institution made me think about what online technology means to myself. For all my life, I have stayed away, consciously and successfully, from anything addictive because I know too well that I am weak and impressible. Only two things I have failed greatly are chocolate and the Internet.
While I moved out from the student halls and in to this new place last summer, my Facebook status (updated when I went for miles to a local library) was:
YL is looking for free wi-fi like a starved wolf. (14 August 2009 at 16:06)
I was even told I looked pale, which in itself was a worrying sign.
Bill at the OII has been developing the notion of “Internet as an experience technology”. In a nutshell, this means that “[a]s people get closer to the Internet, they tend to gain, or learn, an educated level of cybertrust”, confident expectation in the Internet and related ICTs (Dutton & Shepherd, 2006: 446). When I was attending the SDP2006, he presented the idea in its earlier form to us too. Usually, when I listen to a talk, I don’t comment. No other reason; I’m simply too shy for that. At best, I might muster all my courage and ask a question. But his Measuring Trust in the Internet was one of those rare cases where I walked up to the presenter after the talk and said I had an alternative hypothesis: it’s not that users will form more positive attitudes as they become more experienced with it, but that when they can’t afford not to use the technology in question (heavily), they will describe it more positively anyway, at least to ease their cognitive dissonance.
Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else but myself. In my case, even though I admit my addiction, I still can’t do much about it because what I am addicted to is also a professional necessity for me. Some say it’s a blessing to be able to make a living out of what one is passionate about. Others say professional activity and personal interests are not to be mixed so that one can have a balanced life. I have always been with the former standpoint and been grateful. I hope I can stay that way.