Talk Date: 11/2009
Location/Event: TED Global 2009
TED Posting: 11/2009
We worry that IM, texting, Facebook are spoiling human intimacy, but Stefana Broadbent's research shows how communication tech is capable of cultivating deeper relationships, bringing love across barriers like distance and workplace rules.
Stefana Broadbent watches us while we talk (and IM, and text). She is one of a new class of ethnographers who study the way our social habits and relationships function and mutate in the digital age.
...something that I see happening is...a sort of "democratization of intimacy"...that what people are doing is, in fact...with their communication channels...are breaking an imposed isolation that these institutions are imposing on them...in a very simple way: by calling their mom from work, by IMing from their office to their friends, by texting under the desk.
...an average (Facebook) user...has about 120 friends. But ...talks to, has two-way exchanges with, about four to six people...Academic research on instant messaging also shows 100 people on buddy lists, but fundamentally people chat with...less than five. My own research on cellphones and voice calls shows that 80 percent of the calls are actually made to four people.
...some sociologists...feel that it's a closure, it's a cocooning, that we're disengaging from the public.
if we just step back 15 years...when you clocked in to an office...there was no contact for the whole duration of the time, there was no contact with your private sphere.The phones were there. But the expectation was once you moved in there your commitment was fully to the task at hand...to the people around you. That was where the focus had to be.