Connecting in cyberspace. I suppose it is true that we are all more connected but connected to what? I buy from eBay and Amazon. I look for ideas on Pinterest and music on YouTube. there are opportunities to play interactive games and Candy Crush and Scrabble are my favourite. However, I am not connecting to anyone else, it is a solo shopping trip and a solo sport.
Yes, I use Facebook. Not a lot, but sometimes it is good to see what friends are doing on their holidays. If I “like” a photo I am sending a supportive message to a friend which could be construed as connecting but still there is no real contact. People I have never met ask to “friend” me and then I don’t hear from them unless they are promoting an event or selling a product. I am on Linkedin and people ask to connect with me but I never hear from them again unless they want an endorsement. Maybe its me but this all feels like just another form of marketing and I am not that thrilled with it. I want to engage with people in the physicality of life, not through a screen. I guess I am old fashioned.
However, when it comes to interest groups things change. Literally. Groups of people form organically, attracted by a common desire to either learn more, support others or incite change. The difference between this and mass marketing is that people are doing it for themselves. People are seeking out kindred spirits and connecting regardless of geography. This is what I find exciting.
Although petition sites such as Avaaz and SumOfUs may not win design awards, the work they do in pulling people together from all over the world to demand change, is somewhat spectacular.
Oh, and I do use Skype which is a fantastic way to connect with my son in America, friends in South Africa, work colleagues and clients. Here is an application that does connect people at a deeper level and it is an amazing gift as it is free.
Researching new ideas and sites, I am reminded that new things emerge as a result of an interest or need in the public audience. This is almost a form of systems theory where the feedback determines the product. I came across a few interesting interactive sites designed to calm and reduce stress.
Pixel Thoughts is simple with basic graphics and yet effective in inviting the viewer to type what is bothering them in a few words. This appears in a bubble which gradually reduces in size and disappears whilst offering a reminder of the vastness of the galaxy in which we live. It appeals to me because of its simplicity and the diminishing thoughts do seem to reduce stress.
Silk is a doodle platform where the viewer creates beautiful images that are relaxing. It is not a drawing tool and actually quite difficult to control but the results and the options are ethereal . The image can be saved, there is no log in, no sense of emails being collected and an extraordinarily pleasant offering. Here is one I made earlier.
One of my favourite films is The Life of Pi and I was really pleased to find a website called Pi’s Epic Journey describing the making of the film. The site is as clever and entertaining as the film with several interactive screens and plenty of information.
A site that does leave me feeling connected is A Network for Grateful Living. There are reading resources, opportunities to contribute to online questions in sharing forums, a beautifully crafted virtual candle lighting, online book groups, videos, blogs and other community based events. This site has been around for a long time but I still feel that the technology is great and the concept is wonderful. It is upgraded and dynamic, seeing ways to connect people. . It could be described as entertaining and informing in some ways.
Reflecting on my choices here I see that I am mostly drawn to more relaxing and “quiet” sites that offer something less busy, however I do appreciate the complexity of the technology and the enormous skills of the designers. I am also aware of some of the extraordinary apps available and the fact that my phone takes better photos than my camera.
Yes, it is entirely up to you how new media is used and if it appeals to you.