- we continue with our ordinary lives in our physical and social environment – “in real life” (IRL)
- but we also spend increasing amounts of time at our digital screens – where we work, communicate, read, watch and listen
The second life is not unreal, of course. But it takes place in a different environment – which we call virtual.
When we interact with our people, we constantly move between the virtual and the “real”. We use mobile phones to set up physical meetings – but also to document and share those meetings on the web. Our relationships with our people – our social world - integrates the material and the virtual world.
This is also a matter of technology. As long as we must struggle “to get on the web”, we experience the two worlds as separate. When the barriers to access disappear, the distinction between web and physical world becomes meaningless. The boundaries dissolve.
The human world is not natural. Humans make tools and use tools to produce their world. Our landscapes are products of agriculture. Modern cities are products of the industrial age. The emerging global society will – in addition – be a product of digital technology.
A new social environment
We are still in transit, however. We have been trained, from childhood, to manage our behavior IRL. We need new types of training to manage our behavior on the web.
The web is a new social environment. How should we behave in this brave new world – so that we and others benefit from our presence?
The web creates two problems for ordinary decent participants.
- we do not get the immediate social feedback we are accustomed to IRL (lack of reciprosity)
- we distribute our activities over very many separate arenas (lack of integration)
The first problem has been widely discussed. When you don’t get feedback, it is easy to become self-centered and highly emotional. The answer is simple. Follow ordinary rules of polite behavior adapted to the web – in other words netiquette.
The second problem is seldom discussed. The fragmented presence on the web is not so damaging as the first one. But if you use the web to share information, you can help others find it by organizing access.
You may create one main entry point to your presence on the web, or you may separate your professional and your personal lives
- a business home page to the right
- a friends-and-family home page to the left
Otherwise people will simply Google you. Google catches everything – the conference papers, the Facebook entries and the hilarious pictures from the office party. If you Google yourself, you may find pages that you want to delete or protect. Hiding or removing stuff is part of enlightened self-management.
- dell’Arte. Home page for Helge Høivik
- Michael Stephens
- Nina Simon
- Plinius Home. Tord Høivik
- Sherry Turkle