Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A web of good intent; communicating care using IT

Both Latour and Sloterdijk (Feb 17, 2009) caution designers to be mindful of their critical role in humanizing both public and private spaces. This can also be extended to what occurs in the space that is the web. What happens when we use such spaces for being connected, for meeting not only to exchange ideas, not only to exchange pages of knowledge or data, but also for interaction and particularly for emotional support?
There is then need to study the conditions, the relationships, the facets that make such 'being' a possibility.

Latour contends that it is the business of designers to recapture the “healing spaces” of the past — places that provide “immunity,” he said. Sloterdijk called these desired spaces “apartments” that are “a world for a single person … anthropogenic islands … that make human life possible.” I'm thinking that such places are not always so visible, but that 'the web' also holds such possibility. Twitter as described by Ewen Williams as a means to communicate for good, as well as the Youthline NZ experience of texting and emailing for counselling purposes are examples where this is occurring, and there are also numerous examples including where online support groups evolve through to deliberate use of web 2.0 as Beth Kanters network attests. In addition are educational contexts where students within a Health Faculty on placement can also be supported in a reflective environment, and my own experioences of postgraduate study... each of these point to a web of possibilty recapturing nurturing if not healing or enhancing spaces.

Latour holds that it would take “several decades” for humans to use the Web to its full potential for interactivity and “virtual witnessing” in the meantime it remains little more than a means of “reproducing pages.” Seems most uses are still in this area, yet there are also technosocial stories that challenge this and may help in shaping future possibilities when shared. There is therefore a need to understand and explore such possibilties. In doing this, the little things, the apparently superficial or trifle also need to be considered, for as explained by Latour:

"There’s not the slightest chance to understand being when it has been cut off from the vast numbers of apparently “trifle” [sic] and “superficial” “little beings” that make it exist from moment to moment." Bruno Latour, Feb 17, 2009.

Latour, B., & Sloterdijk, P. (2009, 17 February ). Networks and Spheres: Two Ways to Reinterpret Globalization; Presentation at Harvard University. Retrieved 3 March, 2009, from

(nb the movie seems to require University quality of bandwidth to open)

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