Understanding the Sociality of Personal Information Spaces

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Often our generation, and the ones following it are commonly shamed for our attachment to our technology and the internet. But can you blame us? Everything we need is at our fingertips. By that, I don’t just mean a phone call, e-mail, photographs, and texting. I mean everything! Technology caters to our wants and desires too not just our needs, our next relationship, a pair of shoes and even our next meal. Apps such as Tinder, Snapchat, and Instagram are used just as often as the basic features of our phones.

This being said its no surprise that people are absorbed in their personal information spaces. Deuze describes a personal information space in his book Media Work as “the ensemble of mobile media technologies people carry with them everywhere they go – devices that seem to socially isolate and at the same time connect people to the rest or the world”. (Deuze, 30) It is the second part of this statement that really interests me. Often it is assumed that we are becoming more isolated because of our technology. Although we might be alienating ourselves from the people around us, we are opening up the possibilities of connecting with people from all over the world.

Deuze goes on to describe virtual spaces as being disembodied representations of ourselves through the use of “online environments varying from virtual workspaces to massively multiplayer computer games, virtual worlds, and social networking services”. (Deuze, 31) Each space that that he listed and more are each unique because they appeal to specific audiences. Tumblr, 9gag and Reddit all draw different people based on their user interface and the content presented. Similarly, Instagram, Pinterest, and Flickr all offer different experiences creating a stronger following and inclination towards a specific site.

awb9NN1_700bBut what is really interesting to notice about these virtual spaces, is the connections people make with each other. Naturally in a space where like-minded people gather, new relationships are formed. 9gag, for example, has introduced a chat feature recently, capitalizing on the success of relationships created through the site. The infamous comment section on youtube, often fosters hate but sometimes an alliance is formed and a relationship is created. So in a strange, but not unimaginable turn of events, websites that were blamed with the destruction of human relationships are now taking them to a global scale.

This expansion of human relationships is connecting us with a wider range of people as Deuze explains it “the social bonds between personal information spaces as mediated by information and communication technologies are particularly visible in all kinds of social networking services”. (Deuze, 33) Perhaps the more choice we have is making relationships significantly easier to create.

Deuze, Mark. Media Work. Cambridge: Polity, 2007. Print.

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