these things that make us

But it is more difficult to admit that the things that one uses are in fact part of one’s self; not in any mystical or metaphorical sense but in cold, concrete actuality.

from The Meaning of Things by Csikzentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the technology we use becomes a part of us and how by doing so shapes the kind of being we are. Specifically by technology I’m referring to things that are either electronic in nature or made possible because of electronics. Think of communication and information rendering devices such as smartphones, computers, etc., as well as iPods, data reading devices like Nike+ for athletes or clickers for education. Things that Heidegger calls “ready at hand” where we feel emotional and cognitive dissonance when they’re not rightly available. Ever see my reaction when my iPod craps out during a run?

Android X. iPad. MacBook Pro, iPod nano w/Nike +. These things have become such a natural part of how I live my life I feel the urge to type the colloquialism, “I don’t know how I’d live without them.” A statement that’s balderdash of course but the way I go about my day is severely disrupted if any of these devices is not available the moment I ‘need’ them. My nano is regularly packed with my running sneakers and the rest of my gear. My Droid is slipped inside coat pocket next to my wallet. And so on.

Then there are the things that exist because of these devices. For instance, when I return from a run I immediately sync my nano with iTunes, which sends my data to Nike, which I forward to my dailymile workout logging application, which in turn auto posts my numbers to Twitter & Facebook for the world to see. Someone may comment on my results and I’ll reply, perhaps from my Droid, iPad, or MacBook depending on where I am in relation to them at the moment, what I happen to be doing, and what type of response is called for. That’s a personal description however, how I do things professionally is not much different. In fact, I use the same devices and many of the same applications to communicate with my peers. In fact in fact many of my professional peers are also part of my running network. And so on.

What does this say about me and the kind of person I am? How has the technology become part of the fabric of who I am? How has it altered, impacted my course of being? Literally by becoming part of who I am how has the technology shaped my being? My worldview? How I perceive and interact with others? I’d be curious about the technologies you use. What are they? What impact have they had on shaping the person you’ve become?

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