5 March 2014

Do You Know Your History 3 (1)

"I get to my desk in the morning and open my laptop, which is automatically connected to a fast broadband router. I start by checking my personal messages across three different addresses, all of them webmail services. I can see that I have 20 new messages since yesterday. At a glance I see that five of them are automatically generated by my social media accounts; comments on my Facebook posts, LinkedIn notifications, someone new following me on Twitter. They can be deleted. Only the Facebook messages need a response since I am curious to see who has said what about my posts. From webmail I go to Facebook. While there I check the comments, respond to one and look at all the new posts in my network from across the world.

I take a spontaneous break and go to my favourite news website to read the headlines. From the lead article I jump to a video then back to the home page then scan three more articles, the last of which refers to a world leader I’ve never heard of. So it’s off to Wikipedia to find out about a recently elected African President. After that I go back to my inboxes and deal with the messages that require more in-depth action. One of them is a request for budget information for a long-running project. There must be some urgency because the person who sent the email also sends me an SMS, which I receive on the smartphone at my elbow. I reply to the text message and start retrieving information from archived project emails that contain the relevant documents. I compose a detailed reply with the relevant figures, press send, and turn to the next message. This turns out to be a much more involved request to set up meetings, devise a curriculum, and put together a presentation so I create a Doodle Poll and invite the relevant people to it. The curriculum work can wait but I make a start on the presentation, searching the web for relevant images, which I save as screenshots and import into Keynote. This involves some very rapid switching between my web browser (which has 10 tabs open) and the presentation application. I’ve been sitting down for two hours.

It can be difficult to remember where you’ve been online, and consequently hard to get a sense of how much time you have spent, what you did, and why. The relentless onward thrust of Internet activity, and the structure of hyperlinked documents immerses people in a persistent stream of newness leaving the personal and social story of online life elusive. Attention wanders, pages update, videos launch, links reroute, and bookmarks accumulate with minimum intervention from people." 

You are invited to participate in a workshop exploring new ways of showing what we do online. The workshops, on 7 and 8 March, are completely free but booking is required. To find out more about the event and how to book, please visit the What’s On page