No phones at the table!

There has been a shift in public and private places, just as our use of personal technology is infiltrating into the wider world. There is no longer a constant concept of space, time and place as this now depends on who is involved, what is being done and for what purpose. What this means is that what was once viewed as a shopping centre, now becomes a social meeting place, now becomes a hotspot for free wi-fi online shopping, it now morphs into a public space for digital advertising and hive for countless social media users. Because we are all so connected, spaces and the way they are used are constantly changing.

Semi-pubic/semi-private media spaces: The idea of a semi-public or in some regard semi-private media space is occuring more readily for the large majority. This in which an individual will enter the public realm, but immerse themselves in their personal devices. As part of our tutorial task we were asked to go round uni and take photos of other students interacting with technology. It was up to our discretion (or discomfort) to ask the individual if they would mind if their photo was taken. It is not illegal within Australia to take a photo of another, without their knowledge or consent. It is not illegal, but it certainly raises questions of ethical behaviour. It is for that reason I went straight up to the lovely couple below, explained the situation and asked if they would mind if I take a photo of his photo taking. The man then air-dropped the photo of the woman to my phone and “hey-presto!” I had two images of technological inception (my own term!).
They were on cute date I think.


There is another concept that has arisen out of our current public media usage, this being known as spontaneous publics. This notion is not based off new activities undertaken by the public, but instead the extent to where this happens has greatly increased. Let me explain: a spontaneous public is connected by one media outlet, for one particular reason. Whether that be watching the television at the Doctor’s office with other patients or sitting awkwardly arranged at the pub watching the football, it is in some means a spontaneous spacial network connecting people by a simultaneous event. In a more organised or established manner this could be also include being a part of watching the royal wedding of William and Kate  (something I desperately wanted to partake in first-hand, but I hadn’t booked to fly out that early!) like so many hundreds of thousands did; watching the event, away from the actual location such as the gatherings in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square, but also countless other international locations. As audiences we become such because of the screen that joins our common interests.


Recently my Mum joined Facebook to stay in contact with school friends and family in England. She isn’t on very often, just enough to post slightly too long but still lovely messages on my profile pictures and send me links to fun videos. One of these videos was about being connected online so readily that face-to-face communication or interaction has lost its apparent worth for many. What I found most interesting about both the concept and the circumstance is the method by which the message was disseminated: social media. Mum never called to say how wonderful it was and we certainly didn’t talk about it over dinner, instead I received a notification while sitting in the library. The video challenges ideas about experience and involvement with technology in a way that suggests we are missing out on the real adventure of life.

Through this concept (however extreme or idealistic it may be) along with my own observations of technological use through the week that I began to question segmentation. Personal use of our devices in public is leading to a form of self-segmentation in that we are present in society, but individually digitally involved. So what kind of implications will this have on we known to be the public sphere (click here for further insight)? Foremost it will affect the way we conduct our technological use in public, whether it be texting in certain situations or phones being on silent, changing rules of when it is okay to be on the phone and when it is not. The acknowledgement of this changing environment is the first stage in successfully handling it.


2 thoughts on “No phones at the table!

  1. Hi there, ‘spontaneous publics’ is a concept I hadn’t heard of before, very interesting. I think that social media has changed a large part of the way we communicate, but I don’t necessarily see it as a negative. There’s always going to be varying perspectives on social media use…I found this video an interesting response to the viral video ‘Look Up’:

  2. Hey, I certainly don’t think that social media is negative, instead I view it as a new platform that many use in ill informed ways. It merely is a tool to support communication on a different level instead of replacing other methods. That video was really interesting! I think the two (yours and mine) should go together in order to show the full spectrum of how the new realm of social media functions!
    Thanks for the comment!

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