This video explores the relationship we have with our mobile phones, looking at the ‘always on connectivity’ we interact with, in an extreme day in the life scenario. I have included a transcript of the voiceover below for two reasons: The first is so that you can choose to read along if you wish, and the second is because it details the research and planning put into the exploration of this mobile relationship.
After posing this scenario, I’d like to pose the following questions: Does mobile technology have a greater control on our lives than we have over the devices, does our need to be always connected sacrifice other elements of life while enhancing some, and if so, are we comfortable with that sacrifice? As a designer, I also started thinking about how this constant connectivity could apply outside of this personal experience, and so I propose some further thought, in relation to branding and social media: Does an online brand presence have to sacrifice the typical ‘9-5’ hours in order to stay connected and have the biggest impact with interested user base? Furthermore, do the often transparent platforms of social media give the audience more control over the organisation than what we’ve previously had, as a result of constant connectivity to the brand, and the possibility for conversation: both good and bad? To put this secondary question into a more practical example, when users tweet negative feedback about UOW and hashtag it with #ThisIsUOW, does the university have more or less control than it did before it created this identifying tagline to market and brand itself with?
As you drift off to sleep, the light shines strong for a minute or so, until your eyelids close. You venture into a world of limbo as it falls to your side. When you finally awaken from your slumber you turn back once more to that small source of information, your phone which sits ready, waiting, looking to report what you’ve missed while you have been ‘away’. The screen welcomes you like an old friend, however your attention jumps from one application to another. You crave the information you have missed, but don’t care enough to look at the details.
When in a physical setting with other people, though you may be discussing things with the other members present, your eyes are fixed once more on that tiny portable screen. Your attention is divided between phone and friend, and although you are listening to what they have to say, you can’t ignore the call of a notification as it vibrates in your pocket. Your friends may be real, but your digital presence is your priority.
Constant connectivity is the name of the game. A relationship with your online self, and the personas of the people around you. Yes, you may have met a large number of them in real life first, but their digital profile is the person you ‘know’. If it’s not on social media, it may as well have not happened in the first place. You ‘connect’ with others around you, reading their updates, consuming their stories. Do we have control over the medium, because we choose who we follow, or do we lose control as we try to sort through the constant stream of information? Is there a way to conquer the digital overload or will we drown in the data stream flowing our way?
Suddenly you get a push notification that stops your blood cold. You have 10% battery left. You ask around and hope that someone can offer up a device which charges your phone, because if they can’t, you may not survive the day. It is the moment you realise no one has a charger available that you regret not purchasing the LG G5 so you could just switch out the battery with a fresh one – heck, you’d even try to charge with fruit at this stage.
You rush home, cutting your interaction short, as the fear of losing connection to the world haunts your brain. Peace only comes when the cable connects: power to the battery, the little icon flashes and lightning appears – your phone is on it’s way to a full recovery. It was close, but it didn’t faint this time.
As the sun sets, we find ourselves under the covers once more. The sky is aflame, as colours glow. Yellows fade to orange, pinks to purples, blue to black; but our focus is not on the wonders of the sinking sky, but rather on the pixelated haze as we fall into the pattern once again.