Hybrid Space Counter Strategies

This critical design initiative addresses the dehumanizing potential of networked digital technologies. It features an online survey that measures web addiction and then allows users to add a photo with their results to a “wall of mediation,” as well as an investigation and video prototype of various counter-strategies.
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Conceptual introduction

The digital and the physical are continuously converging into hybrid spaces in a myriad of ways. Our sense of self-identity as individuals, and as a collective society, has inextricably merged with networks of digital information. Computing and internet access flows unrestricted, out into the public spaces of the city and into the most private areas of our homes – ever-present, location-aware, highly personal, and sanctioning a mediated engagement with the physical world that is filtered through a virtual layer of information. We are constantly connected to unseen databases and the theoretically near-infinite network of the internet, which affects and alters every aspect of our daily lives, professionally and socially, psychologically and spiritually. We may be physically situated in a public space, but our capacity to directly interact with it and with one another has changed – are we completely embodied or spatially aware in a place when our attention is constantly being diverted to the seductive portal offered by our mobile device? And so its screen becomes an equally valid representation of the space we consciously occupy, its interface our preferred way of being publicly present, and the information it contains just as true as anything else we see, hear or sense otherwise.

The internet (or memories of its use) is habitually and instinctively employed to negotiate our thoughts and organize our intentions. Over-mediated, we’ve begun to envision our conscious selves as a sort of computer: Our minds in a state of permanent distraction, dependent on external, networked databases for memories, knowledge, counsel, both vital and trivial. Our cognition has been transformed by technological dependency and the ramifications of this are actually biochemical, neurological. This hybrid space defines the contemporary psyche – a Baudrillardian simulacrum of infinite degree that only permits undefinable degrees of realness, in which the whole notion of ‘realness’ seems distant and irrelevant, the binary distinction between real and virtual out-dated. We barely notice our daily lives changing. We must stay connected and up-to-date, and submit to the ever-pressing, flashing, glowing, beeping, chirping demands of our professional and social lives, our chains, our straight-jackets, our refuges, our sanctuaries. We accept these circumstances almost unquestioningly, recalibrating as necessary, justifying our media and data consumption habits as our digital addictions grow increasingly insatiable. We fetishize endlessly more-capable gadgets, celebrating the convenience they offer as we move our lives into the net, corporatize our personal lives in public media exhibitions, broadcast even our most banal day-to-day habits to be tracked, and sacrifice our privacy as commodity of information to be traded in a virtual derivative-fund-like maze. And so, imprisoned in this cyber-cave, the digital shadows of ourselves have become the most real us we are capable of conceiving.

Read more about the Hybid Space Counter-Strategies initative.

Hybrid space counter strategies | May 2012