Thursday, 31 January 2013

Caught between multiple worlds

I often feel that I am in a costant struggle between different worlds: Home and University, Microsoft Office Word and Pages and finally the Physical and the Digital world. In the last post Victoria discusses whether technology is headed towards a cyberpunk reality where technology is part of ourselves and I am suprisingly  quite partial to any reality where I feel whole and not floundering at the border of Physical and Digital reality.

I am a home student without a smart phone that has an hour and a half commute each way, which inevitably causes a few technical difficulties. I am not bothered by the length of the commute I use it to listen to Cabin Pressure on my iPod but the distance it signifies causes multiple problems. I feel caught between worlds: the place where I keep all my notes and paperwork, my bedroom, and the university with its 'wealth' of resources made 'accessible' to students. The result is that I have at most an hour each night to decide what I will need for the upcomming day and then what I can feasibly carry. It is in no way an easy decision; instead it is one full of sacrifice and angst.

Just today I was making my commute at 7am and when I had got far enough away from my house that I would have to catch a bus to get back I realsied that I had forgotten: to write this blog post, to pick up my timtable because I am having my first Literature Project Prep seminar and I do not know the room number, my iPod, my iPad and lunch.

The first thing on my list are easy enough to sort. I arrived at University found an available computer and then waited for it to load, a most frustrating waste of time. But then I hit a snag. My timetable is at home and while WebCT has a 'wealth' of information it rarely contains the information you need. so once again i was trapped between the two worlds of the Digital and the Physical. Despite searching there are no digital copies of timetables available to students, therefore, I will have to seek another copy at the office.

Next is the problem of the iPad. The iPad unlike the iPod is essential; it contains all of my University work, articles, ebooks and prompts for where I left off my research; whereas the iPod is solely for pleasure. There is not way to circumvent this issue; physical distance makes this isurmountable. These are the times where I long for the technology speculated in SF. Data always held on my person that wont be forgotten and left at home because it needed to charge and was not put in my bag last night. Another issue with the iPad is the sacrifices I make becasue of it. I chose an iPad over a Laptop becasue it was small, compact easy to carry, light and fast on the internet, however, this casues diffuculties when sumitting essays becasue thte formatting between Word abd Pages is different and can lead to major presentation issues.It also means that I cannot access things that people post on dropbox and that i always have to find a PC if it concerns this course.

Life is full of sacrifices but i long for a realisty where Digital and Physical are fully intergrated where if I go on WebCT the notes and handouts are available and that I am not having to juggle retaining things on paper and also being glued to the computer waiting for my lecturers to post something. I long for consistency where things either exist in both realms or soley in one.


  1. I can understand the frustration of forgetting something, it can ruin my day and I only live a 20 minute walk away in Selly Oak.

    With technology shrinking and advancing at its current rate, I doubt that it will take too long for these problems to be resolved. Just look at the latest smartphones compared to the ones five years ago. It shan't be too long before the phone or tablet can do absolutely everything.

    For me, however, this is where I would like things to stop. Although gadgets should be streamlined and integrated, I like the physical separation. I like to be able to turn off my computer, or to put my phone down and just take a step back and relax. I also like to distance myself from work, I don't check emails at the weekend for example, or I will work extra during the week to have the weekend off. Integrating the digital and physical world will therefore be a step too far for me,but the appeal is obvious and justified.

  2. Rachel - there is a Dropbox app for iOS, which should allow you to use your iPad to access material on there. That, of course, still doesn't help you should you leave it at home, though. I had the same issue earlier this week, as I wrote my essay feedback for a module by hand using a stylus on my iPad, and then wanted to type it up in the office. Only, I had left my iPad at home and couldn't do it. Until all data is always 'in the cloud' and accessible from a variety of devices, this will remain a problem.


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