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Introduction: Getting back to connectedness

Introduction:
Getting back to connectedness

“During [the twentieth] century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport—the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.

I expect that history will show ‘normal’ mainstream twentieth century media to be the aberration in all this. ‘Please, miss, you mean they could only just sit there and watch? They couldn’t do anything? Didn’t everybody feel terribly isolated or alienated or ignored?’

‘Yes, child, that’s why they all went mad. Before the Restoration.’

‘What was the Restoration again, please, miss?’

‘The end of the twentieth century, child. When we started to get interactivity back.’”[1]

DOUGLAS ADAMS, WRITING IN 1999

[1] From one of my all-time favorites: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet, by Douglas Adams: http://www.douglasadams.com/dna/19990901-00-a.html

It’s odd to think of the twentieth century as somehow less interactive than other periods in history. But, in terms of how we spent most of our time, it was. Our TVs and radios and automobiles served to distance us from each other. It’s possible, for instance, to ride around in a car, see everyone in town, yet never say “hello.” How many of us sit at home and watch TV instead of going out and socializing?


  

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