Techdirt Podcast Episode 30: Does Distance Matter In The Digital Age?

from the close-and-far dept

The internet has changed the parameters for how people can interact. Today, all sorts of work and socialization can be done over distances that were previously impossible, and the rise of telecommuting has been no surprise. And yet there are still a lot of imperfections in the system, and a lot of ways that the internet doesn't quite seem to close the gap as much as we'd like it to. In this week's episode, we ask the question of how much face-to-face communication still matters in the digital age, and what the future holds for long-distance interactions.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2015 @ 1:02pm

    it definitely doesn't as far as speed of one point reaching another point. it takes milliseconds to achieve! it's something that the entertainment industries are fully aware of but keep doing anything and everything they can think of to make appear as if it takes the same amount of time as contacts did 30 years ago and convincing judges who are too old to be in the positions they are because they dont understand technology and the speed it is advancing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Espryon (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 2:34pm

    Hey Guys, just a suggestion but, you're looking for a voip client that actually values privacy and has clean audio quality for when I have chats with my friends try utox i.e. https://utox.org . Just a suggestion towards a voip client that is designed for privacy and values it and finally is free. I mean unless Microsoft is paying you guys for using their software lol. Just a thought or two.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Espryon (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 2:35pm

    sorry, they're updating their ssl certs atm. http://utox.org

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 23 Jun 2015 @ 4:41pm

    Time matters, not distance

    It should be clear to everyone that distance doesn't matter in the modern digital age.

    But time does.

    Possibly no technology in the history of man has been so efficient at eliminating the current moment--burying it, destroying it--so that the next moment can happen in complete novelty.

    Right to forget is just the start: soon it will be, "no right to remember." Everything you see will be without antecedent; and will evaporate to nothingness, never to be seen again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 24 Jun 2015 @ 7:03am

      Re: Time matters, not distance

      Possibly no technology in the history of man has been so efficient at eliminating the current moment--burying it, destroying it--so that the next moment can happen in complete novelty.

      I always thought the inexorable passage of time did an excellent job of that all by itself...?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 5:29pm

        Re: Re: Time matters, not distance

        Well, it used to be history was a dropped pot--dropped in the trash heap and no one cared. We learned a lot from those shards, because the shards were physical.

        These days, with automatic software cleanup, short retention policies, the obscurity of software data storage, inability to search for anything over a week old, and transient nature of ISPs, well...

        No one still cares, but after the improvements of modern technology, there won't even be shards to look at.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Leigh Beadon (profile), 26 Jun 2015 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Time matters, not distance

          These days, with automatic software cleanup, short retention policies, the obscurity of software data storage, inability to search for anything over a week old, and transient nature of ISPs, well...

          Do you honestly believe that?

          1) My automatic software also *backs up* all my data in more than one place, with stuff going back for years. My records and mementos are far more secure today than they ever have been.

          2) Which short retention policies are the issue, exactly? I've never had any data that I wanted to keep disappear because of that. All my memories on Facebook are intact; all my tweets are apparently in the Library of Congress. The great thing about data retention policies is that we get to set them, instead of being tied down to the physical lifespan of the data.

          3) Obscurity of storage methods may, indeed, cause some issues in the future. I'm a big supporter of the various groups working to pre-empt this issue.

          4) Inability to search for anything over a week old? What? I regularly search stuff way older than that. Not only are there plenty of archives to help me find online material that's 10 or 20 years old, I can pop up Google Newspaper Archives and browse century-or-more-old newspapers from all over the world.

          It seems to me your issue is that, if our civilization entirely collapses, a future one will have a harder time learning about us than we did learning about ancient civilizations. That might be true (though I've long been fascinated by the concept of a "data archaeologist" that such a future civilization might have). But honestly, is that our priority concern? Our technology has enabled us to have far, far more access to knowledge and history and communication, on a democratized global level, than ever before in history. I can go right now and look at high-resolution 3D photos of those "dropped pots" from Feudal Japan or Medieval Europe or Ancient Rome or the prehistoric stone age tribes from Mongolia to France. Then I can read academic papers about them, talk about them on a message board with career archaeologists, and book a flight and an AirBnB stay in the city where they are on display, all without leaving my chair. I can take photos of my trip and instantly share them with my friends and relatives, and put them into a permanent backed-up archive that I can then access from anywhere in the world and share with anyone I choose.

          Are we going to give all that up, just to make sure that a hypothetical successor civilization to ours has more dropped pots to look at?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 23 Jun 2015 @ 5:42pm

    Yes it Does

    Why? Because the speed of light is finite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Erik, 25 Jun 2015 @ 6:06am

    The problem is equipment?

    It sounds nerdy, but I think Star Trek had it best. They had all the virtual communication, but the gear was unobtrusive. When someone was talking on the large viewscreen on a bridge, they were looking at the screen, not at a camera off to the side.

    And then of course there is the holodeck. Again, VR without gear. If they get that working this is all moot....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 25 Jun 2015 @ 10:21am

      Re: The problem is equipment?

      And yet for some reason, they had to use crewmen as pages to carry their PADDs (one device per document, of course!) around the ship to each other...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ezra (profile), 30 Jun 2015 @ 12:24pm

    Phones were supposed to kill cities 100 years ago, yet we are more urban now than ever. Arguably, the internet has allowed more niche groups of people to form online, who then want to fly around the world to ever more specialized conferences. If distance doesn't matter in an internet age, then why are all the most tech savvy people all dying to get visas and move across the world to be in Silicon Valley? The Internet of Smart Cities is the future, not everyone working on their laptops in the mountains.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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