Friday, May 19, 2006

No Place Like Home

Last week, two news stories showed how digital media are reshaping the domestic spaces and lived environments of citizens across the globe, as users become accustomed to interfacing with multiple technologies, sometimes simultaneously. According to the New York Times, "In Tokyo the New Trend is 'Media Immersion Pods,'" commercial establishments are thriving where Japanese customers can spend hours and even the night reading manga, playing videogames, watching DVD's, and surfing the Internet away from home. Many types of family members may choose to outsource their home entertainment; the story in the Times describes both parents and children seeking refuge in these multimedia wombs. Unlike the Habermassian coffeehouses envisioned by what eventually became Cyborganic Gardens, media podhouses -- such as those run by the Gran Cyber Café chain -- are designed to situate singles and couples in isolated cubicles with love hotel style anonymity as the norm.

In a separate article on the same day, the New York Times also notes that as more U.S. households become comfortable with media code-switching in the domestic environment, advertisers are studying their habits to keep their marketing efforts up-to-date. According to "At an Industry Media Lab, Close Views of Multitasking," one laboratory in Los Angeles, which is run by the Interpublic Group, mimics private space in order to observe how typical people multitask. Universities are studying multitasking too. For example, the Center for Media Design at Ball State University found that 96% of people are media multitasking about a third of the time they are watching, listening, or interacting with news and information content. As television moves from the background to the foreground in many households and as the computer comes into the kitchen, the lived environment of digital householders is likely to continue to change.

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Blogger Lupton said...

Although it's already a year old, I found an interesting article about the difficulties in marketing the digital living room. Although the technology is there to integrate multimedia, the diversity of manufacturers, along with the resistance of consumers to learning how to operate all that stuff, has prevented so far the dream of digitalized living. At our house, we are happy to have multiple equipment in different regions of our public space (and private spaces too): digital, yes; integrated, no. I've been in one McMansion, built in the last year, that was seriously wired, but the lady of the house complained a bit about how hard all that stuff was to operate. For me, the computer in the kitchen means not the digitalization of shopping and cooking into a seamless continuum, but rather integrating creative work with domestic labors.

6:23 PM  

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