A couple without cellphones is more connected than a couple *with* cellphones--by Ed Yourdon on Flickr

A few months back The New York Times ran a series of articles about our immersion in technology.  They were really interesting if not a little convicting and ironic to find them via Twitter.

Set aside ten minutes and read Attached to Technology and Paying a Price by Matt Richtel without changing windows on your computer or doing anything else before you get to the end.  Clicking on the print (version which puts all the text in one page) may help, but don’t be surprised by how hard it is.  It is a long article, but I don’t think that is the reason it is hard to complete in one read.  I think it is because we have programmed ourselves to be constantly on the move.

Richtel closes his article with this,

Mr. Nass at Stanford thinks the ultimate risk of heavy technology use is that it diminishes empathy by limiting how much people engage with one another, even in the same room.

“The way we become more human is by paying attention to each other,” he said. “It shows how much you care.”

That empathy, Mr. Nass said, is essential to the human condition. “We are at an inflection point,” he said. “A significant fraction of people’s experiences are now fragmented.”

I think this may be one of the contributing factors to the lack of engagement with others at conferences.  It would be interesting to study the ratio of time people who have gathered in person for a specific purpose or event spend communicating with people who aren’t there.  It might be worth keeping in mind at the upcoming FUDCon in Temp, Arizona, this coming January.