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Humans of Technology

Each individual has a story, a tale of how they see or embrace the world. Our world has now become incredibly dependent on the advancements of technologies, so they have inevitably become apart of our stories. It has entered nearly every aspect of our work life, education and social lives. They have essentially redesigned the ways in which our society runs, as well as the very relationships we have with other individuals and our own digital devices. It was these thoughts that inspired the creation of @tech_humans.

For the digital project, Monique and I thought it would be best to create an Instagram to photograph people in their everyday lives. As we would ask their permission to take their photo and explain to them the aims of our project, we would begin to conduct a small and simplistic interview, asking them a bunch of questions. From here, we would then take the most interesting quote that they said and use it to accompany the image of the person, both of which would then be posted to Instagram. We thought the platform of Instagram is perfect for this assignment as it is essentially a digital story telling platform. This qualitative research proved to be extremely successful, as we began to collect a bunch of interesting short stories about how these certain individuals interact with the social boundaries and spaces of their technologies. Through reading the quotes and contrasting them to other photos in the series, one is able to gain a thorough understanding of the intricate relationship our world has developed with technology. These individuals used throughout the project also all vary in age, sex and opinions, creating a story telling board with an array of perspectives.

One key element that we also had to remember whilst developing the Instagram page is that each person photographed and interviewed needed to understand what we were doing and that it was to be published on Instagram and our blogs. Interestingly enough, this often sparked an extended avenue of discussion, as the individuals were curious as to why my assignment for communications and media involved so heavily a social media platform. This was the case with my grandmother, who was so intrigued that education itself was establishing a relationship with technology.
The project also greatly benefitted my interviewing techniques, as with each interview, I found my questions become more refined and it eventually becoming easy to find the best quotes to use to accompany the image. Some of the individuals interviewed gave less content to work with so that proved to be a challenge, though the more comfortable I made them feel; I found that they would share more information and stories. I also think that through these interviews I was able to learn a lot about the individuals relationship and stories, and in return they were positioned to think about how dependent they are on technology. This definitely gave the project both purpose and meaning.

With Instagram being a social media platform, we hoped to also gain followers and have people interact with the project. This was mostly achieved through the implementation of hash tags on each photo, which brought traffic to our page. This also extended the spatial nature of our project as we originally had the short snippet of a individuals story, mostly from people around the Illawarra, but all of a sudden we had people from around the world commenting, liking and following the page. This was a great achievement for the project.

To also give our project an element of quantative data, we began to decide to ask 20 random individuals around campus what they were doing on their phones at that exact moment.

  • 50% were on social media platforms.
  • 40% were messaging.
  • 5% were internet banking.
  • 5% were calling somebody.

This also supports the idea that we are becoming increasingly dependent on technologies and digital devices to interact socially with others. This is what we also found to be quite common amongst our interview subjects.

The idea for this project was also influenced by the paper ‘Are We Becoming More Socially Awkward? An Analysis of the Relationship Between Technological Communication Use and Social Skills in College Students’. The paper explored the ways in which Generation Y has been “confronted with the challenges of growing up in a culture full of novel approaches to communication, thus developing new methods of interactions” (Brown, 2013).

One thing that I would change about the project however would be the amount of posts we were able to achieve. I would have loved to have more stories to share, though this is a possibility in the near future. It would have also been great to get in contact with other university overseas and see how technology has influenced and impacted their own ways of social relationships and the ways in which they are being taught their courses.

All in all, I am quite proud of the digital project we established. I feel as though we have established a platform which not only allows people to witness these stories, but also actively engage with them. The wonders of technology will only continue to develop and I look forward to actively engaging with them throughout the rest of my degree and later career.

Check out Humans of Technology here!

https://instagram.com/tech_humans/

References:

Brown, C. (2013). Are We Becoming More Socially Awkward? An Analysis of the Relationship Between Technological Communication Use and Social Skills in College Students.. [online] Digitalcommons.conncoll.edu.

Available at: <http://digitalcommons.conncoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=psychhp&gt; [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

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