Do you have the need to update your status every living second? Well, P.A.U.S.E.S, a speculative concoction brewed up by designer and artist John Ryan, may be the perfect product for you! P.A.U.S.E.S. is a speculative device that monitors your behavior and interactions in order to automatically generating a ‘micro-status’ that is instantaneously displayed on your chest unit, as well as published to your online social profiles. The device can actually sense, via RFID tags, what you are doing, and tweets about it.
“Portable computing is now ubiquitous, and has been a key factor in fueling the explosion of social networking. I’m interested in how social networking, and its inherent ‘projecting a better version of ourselves through edited sharing of our lives’, is linked with the rise of narcissism in Western culture.” – John Ryan
The development and integration of technology in our daily lives will create individuals and culture that are more social. This phenomenon has already been seen in the development and growth of venues such as Facebook and AOL Instant Messenger. I argue that these new modes of social networking have not divided us through screens, but have connected us due to the invention of “events,” accumulation of friends, and the publishing of photos. Each of these features in virtual space, as made evident by Ryan’s piece, serve as proof of our “real life” social qualities, and therefore provide pressure to socialize in the physical world.
I believe Ryan’s project speaks to the idea that society will grow more and more dependent on one another as a result of our constant virtual connectivity, leading to a culture that will lose a sense of independence and self. The result of this will go beyond the loss of independence, it will also inherently foster a culture which suffers from an uprise in paranoia – one that feels as though something is always present, because something always is. Symptoms have already been seen as a result of the birth of the internet, and precaution should be considered as we continue to develop and make sense of what this network is, and the implications that it’s inhabitance within our daily lives may have.