Kathy Sierra, Death Threats, and Persistent Presence Tools...
Blogger Kathy Sierra has been receiving death threats of the most despicable sort. On first reading that fact, you would perhaps assume she is some type of political pundit at an extreme end of the ideological spectrum, or maybe some other inflammatory personality. But no, Kathy Sierra, from the best that I can detect, blogs about nothing crazier than internet technologies. While of course people are going to disagree with some of her arguments, it goes without saying that death threats and sexual threats are despicable and atrocious, not to mention illegal. Here's hoping Kathy sticks to her guns.
But if there's a silver lining, she's getting loads of free publicity to her blog, Creating Passionate Users, and rather than focus more on the threats made against her, I'm going to show some support and actually examine some of her writings.
In her post titled, "Is Twitter TOO Good?", she makes the case that Twitter, Jaiku, etc., (the genre of Web 2.0 services quickly becoming collectively known as "Persistent Presence Tools") are largely negative developments and will be more problematic than useful. Her argument is that as we create new ways to get interrupted with updates and messages providing us with up-to-the-minute status of people we know, this prevents entering into states of deep thought and inhibits true social interaction. As an example, think of your constant barrage of IM popups and cell phone text messages when you're trying to actually accomplish something at work. This is only becoming more of a problem as new services like Twitter are becoming more widely adopted.
"Ironically, services like Twitter are simultaneously leaving some people with a feeling of not being connected, by feeding the fear of not being in the loop."
She also provides a terrific chart on this phenomenon, which would be extremely funny if it weren't so true:
As I've written before, I tend to agree with Kathy about (some of) the negative effects that persistent presence technologies exacerbate - and judging by the blogosphere hype, we seem to be in the minority on this one. Though I don't necessarily believe that it inhibits meaningful social interaction, internet ADD and constant multi-tasking cannot replace the thinking that occurs while spacing out on the bus. In fact, I consider my music-less morning bus ride and subway commute to be the place where I get most of my dissertation thinking done.
My greatest concern is that the willingness to embrace persistent presence tools is the new test of a generational divide. I'm not ready to be old.