Jaron Lanier’s You are Not a Gadget raises interesting points about the commonplace/second nature technology, specifically the Internet, plays in our lives today.
Lanier questions digital technology’s ability to define people, as “being a person is not a pat formula, but a quest, a mystery, a leap of faith” (p.5). But in a world like ours, where not having a Facebook profile is as ancient giving out your “landline” phone number (and using the word, “landline,” for that matter) we increasingly validate our existence online.
On the same page, Lanier also notes, “it would be hard for anyone, let alone a technologist, to get up in the morning without faith that the future can be better than the past.” A value traceable through the many social media outlets most of us have (Myspace), continue to (Facebook), and will eventually (Pinterest) integrate into our everyday beings.
Pinterest, in particular, is the newest forum of self-expression—an opportunity to collect the things we like, want or wish we could be/have. Users claim their identities and communicate their personalities through the images they pin, whether they belong to them or to someone else, and categorize them on boards by title/subject (referent of the organizational files Lanier mentions).
Mashable also released an article last week naming the up-and-coming personal pinboard the world’s now 3rd largest social network (behind Facebook and Twitter). As a fan and avid user, I thought of Pinterest often while reading this piece.
As more Easters are turning into Pinterest craft sessions and Tuesday nights are becoming Pinterest Dinner occasions, is this digital footprint more personally authentic and tangible than Lanier suggests? Or are we hopelessly locked-into the network’s rudimentary niche grasp—followers stuck in the latest digital humdrum—as he fears?