Places to Spaces

According to respected technology guru Kevin Kelly, “The network economy shifts places to spaces.” As he further points out in his writing, while a place is bounded by the dimensions of height, width, depth, and time, “a space, unlike a place, is an electronically created environment.”

What that means is that technology assists us to connect with one another without regard to the limitations of time and place, which is an incredible gift if used properly. For example, while emails, texts, and instant messages can help keep people close, unless each party practices proper “netiquette,” all the technology is for naught.

A byproduct of moving from places to spaces is the movement from atoms to bits, in other words, from the tangible to the intangible. The upside of this for me is that digitizing my stuff, including books, music, photos, and videos, enables me to fulfill my dream of traveling lightly through life.

However, there is a downside also. Despite all the optimistic talk about “cloud computing” there is the possibility of “technological difficulty,” such as the time my complimentary click-and-build website vanished from the ether one day. While it can be argued that I got what I paid for, it was nonetheless an unwelcome reminder of technology’s shortcomings.

The bottom line of all this is that technology as a tool is one of the most revolutionary innovations ever devised by man, but it must be used wisely and with integrity if we are to reap its vast rewards and realize its promise of keeping us all in touch with each other, wherever we are.