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'Liberating technology is actually enslaving society' - Ulster academic

“Society’s ability to be seduced by technology, both in terms of devices and applications is fascinating but also frightening," according to Ulster’s Professor of Marketing, Mark Durkin.

Writing in this morning's News Letter, Professor Durkin says:

"For customers, the constant and often simultaneous use of laptop, MP3 player, smart phone and TV, especially by our young people, has serious implications in terms of attention and focus, he says.

"Of note is the fact that such stimulating multi-tasking makes the necessary recovery time needed by the brain for consolidating daily thoughts increasingly absent.

"Time once available for reflection, thought and consideration is being eroded by the constant noise of electronic devices demanding our attention.

"For companies, particularly the smaller enterprises that dominate our regional economy, the growth in social networking presents a fascinating marketing challenge.

"While customer closeness is important, opening the door to fully engaging with potential and existing customers through social media platforms brings both opportunity and threat. Social media sites afford the customer a disproportionate amount of power in the buyer-seller relationship and not to realise this presents a real danger for local companies.

"Rather than feeling pressured into engaging with social media in order to be ‘current’ local companies need to wake up to the fact that such engagement with customers requires resources and can’t be done in a half-hearted manner.

"In actuality, society has become enslaved by what we still view to be liberating technology.

"What needs to be realised is that the technological capability that purports to enable the ‘social’ in ‘social networking’ simply creates a sleepy virtual environment populated by discrete interactions that are often narcissistic, superficial and ephemeral.

"As a society we are actually connected only in our collective belief that the Internet ‘connects’ us socially”. 

ENDS

Professor Durkin's full article appears in the Business section of this morning's News Letter (19.10.2010).

http://www.newsletter.co.uk/