By late 2007 I was at a point in my life of living my everyday with an obsessive compulsive attachment to technology and more importantly frequenting only those locations where I had ‘signal’, an unfettered GSM connection. My work with EDUPOV Pty Ltd was taking me all over the country and I was working long hours on projects which were fraught with issues, mostly around the lack of coherent management.
A decade prior the internet had for me opened a new world for ‘placeless’ interaction and fast forward the internet was now the backbone to my personal social connection. I sought that networked connection out no matter where I would go in a day, constantly checking and rechecking my mobile phone as to the level of GSM coverage I had, answering SMS messages, mobile blogging where I was, what I was doing, with whom, when and where. Now I was spending huge amounts of time in MMORPG’s like Secondlife, World of Warcraft and Halo lost amongst demons, spawning snakes and fancy avatars with humans connected to them somewhere in this digital virtual nightmare. I admit I was not sleeping very much, drinking way to much coffee and smoking like an old chimney.
The connection with others and being centre of attention from my physical location to a virtual audience was addictive and all consuming.
The network it seemed had “become me and more importantly my interactions through mobile blogging were at such an epic rate that I had in fact become the camera.”
For almost a decade since the beginning of the internet I took literally tens of thousands of photos and most without the explicit oral or written consent of the subject, including culturally sensitive, private and contentious capture and transmission across a wide array of settings. These were spread across multiple hard drives and an array of web 2.0 spaces who screamed out for more data. The mantra of “web 2.0 is everything” had a social meaning as long as it was transmitted and accessible online affecting even our workforce setting project funding requirements. For our teams to gain progressive payments at project milestones they were required to post on a public wiki, moblog or other open online platforms.
In hindsight it was a colossal mistake and ethically I still beat myself around the head thinking what classic mistakes we were making by demanding teams be ‘transparent’ through the web.
At the time we reinforced that this not only demonstrated the value of the project's outcomes and experiential learning by increments but it also made the learning process transparent. An era of transparency, a shift from an assured privacy to the supposed protection of a corporate facilitated transparency was dawning.
My home based office became my workplace, my social network, my coffee shop and it felt at times that I had more in common with others who I had never met than those whom I was in contact with on an everyday basis in reality. I was heavily invested in understanding the role of technologies and their associated systems and would spend up to 15 hours a day mostly prone behind computer consoles. My prolific online presence in many different online web forums and experimentation with wearable technology in the use of mobile blogging as a digital story and documentation tool had transformed into countless hours immersed in virtual reality and it was biting me hard.
My monthly spend alone on the highest level mobile phone account and broadband internet exceeded our weekly shopping bill. I had a suite of avatars and aliases I frequented these online spaces with, consistently exploring how it was possible to engage with young people particularly using mobile learning or always on learning as a matter of priority, not secondary to a core curriculum. This constant exploring literally consumed my everyday as it most certainly does the lives of those around me now. I was also at the time very much interested in building my online presence, constantly shifting my primary website for literally hundreds of hours on end, changing templates, hacking CSS to make changes for everything to always look better, grander than it all was.
To be perfectly honest, sadly, my social media presence was more prolific than the interactions I had with my wife, children, family and friends.