These days we have so much debate about whether or not digital devices are decreasing our face-to-face communication and our quality of life.
If you are interested in this debate, check out a fascinating January 17, 2014 article in the New York Times Magazine. In Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart, writer Mark Oppenheimer describes how Rutgers University Professor Keith Hampton and his associates filmed the human interactions at Bryant Park — a New York City park just behind the New York Public Library — to discover how people interact in public spaces. In the process, researchers wanted to learn more about how today’s digital devices affect those interactions.
Professor Hampton based his work on the research of William H. Whyte, a sociologist who filmed people interacting in urban public spaces to learn more about their behavior and what they do. Whyte did his filming in the late 1960s and 1970s, calling it the Street Life Project. Studying the films, Whyte tried to discern what people liked to do, how they conversed, how long those conversations lasted and in what locations.
Hampton’s research, up to the point of filming in Bryant Park, focused on how today’s connected world affects people, and by studying communities he came out with a different perspective than many other of today’s university researchers. In his New York Times article Oppenheimer reports: Continue reading