Sep 172008

NYT article: "Ambient Awareness"

Excellent NYT article on ambient awareness, well worth reading.

Brave New World of Digital Intimacy, Clive Thompson, September 5, 2008


This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” an invisible dimension floating over everyday life.

I'm witnessing ambient awareness in my own life.

Just three recent examples: my dad's college roommate who lives in the area calls out-of-the-blue over the weekend to say "hi" because my mom was in town visiting. In Vegas, an industry pal hooks up with the RKG gang at serendipitously for dinner. And a local industry friend is heading to the hospital right now to have her baby. (Good luck Janet!)

All these connections or awarenesses over the last few days, all occurring through ambient social media web links.

And the people involved aren't all twittering web 2.0 digerati -- these are regular normal folks.

Really interesting stuff.

Article link: Brave New World of Digital Intimacy

Hat tip: Warren Sukernek


One Response to "NYT article: "Ambient Awareness""
Alan, thanks for the shout-out. I love how you juxtaposed the idea of ambient awareness into real life, non-social media examples. It really makes the concept resonate for me. For those interested in even more "ambient awareness", I wrote my own response to Clive Thompson's excellent article which also identifies some other writers' reactions,

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