Curious Culture

i plan to bounce around between the Fukushima nuclear disaster and other topics over the next few days.

My communities relationship with technology is quite unusual.  When the community was founded in the late 1960s, it was felt that television was a social toxin.  As such it was banned.  But the world did not stay still, and new entertainment and information technologies became available. And each time one did, we said “yes” to it.  So while there is no live television anywhere on campus still, we do have video players and ipods and ipads and the internet as well as some video game machines.  When we started putting wireless internet from our fractional T1 line into our residences i asked the question “Is T1 = TV?” The answer which came back, paraphrased was “Maybe, but we dont care”

One of the technologies we do restrict is cell phones.  The norms for controlling cell phone use are almost as strict as the ones limiting cigarette use.  Because the community does not provide members with cell phones and because there is a strong desire to limit the public use of cell phones, there are only a handful of places you can use cell phones at my community.  The abbreviated version of these norms are:

1) Put your phone on vibrate

2) You can only use it where there is an existing land line.

The actual policy is more complicated than this and is described here.

The theory is that since we have current locations for phone usage, the new non-egalitarian cell phones should be restricted to those locations and no one should have to hear you current crazy ring tone anywhere.  These guidelines also make me more aware of peoples cell phone etiquette in the mainstream culture.  People oft seem to think that having a phone call exempts them for being respectful of those around them.  And i am far from perfect in this as well and Hawina and Willow both tease me often about how much i hang on my electronic leash.