The next generation of pervasive networked technologies drives convergence not just in space but also on a much more intimate level, between the subjective and objective, between the public and private domains, between technology and our body, categories that we once thought to be fixed and coherent ways to understand our world. Connectivity creates objectivity, it is in connecting that something subjective becomes projected into an objective form, through communications what is internal becomes external. The prefix “hyper-“ implies an extreme or an excess of something and the risk of pervasive connectivity is the risk of an imbalance between the subjective and objective. Subjectivity means based upon a personal feeling or opinion, to quote the Oxford Dictionary “dependent on the mind or on an individual’s perception for its existence”. Subjectivity is the sense of oneself as unique and distinct from everything else. As such it is the source of diversity of opinions and ideas, it is only out of people’s subjective experience that we get new and different ideas, that we turn our experiences into ideas and it is only by people having different and unique experiences that we can get new and different ideas.
But if subjectivity creates uniqueness and diversity, connectivity and objectivity drive homogeneity; creating a connection requires some kind of similarity or common platform for two things to connect through, sharing the same language is an example, without this commonality it is not possible to connect with other people through communications. The more we are brought into contact the more we are forced to create and share common interfaces, with hyperconnectivity the threat is that these commonalities come to subsume the diversity of difference. Hyperconnectivity also breaks the process of subjective development in that it allows us to “escape“ from ourselves; developing valuable insight, new ideas, one’s own opinion all take time, reflection and most of all attention. Heightened connectivity gives us the opportunity to continuously break this process as attention becomes scattered and fractured, without a focus of attention there is no experience of the self, and when attention is always on something objective then there is no space for subjective development.
Whereas technology is seen to be objective in that it is created through design, our bodies are not, they are part of the unique experience of being us, after all, it is us who feels them and not someone else, the experience would appear to be inherently subjective. But the next generation of pervasive technologies breaks down this barrier, with the next generation of bio and cognitive technologies we have the capacity to ”not be us”, to alter or re-engineer basic biological and cognitive processes, to make them explicit, to share them with the resulting homogeneity that follows from this. Hyperconnectivity challenges us like never before to understand this divide between the subjective and objective, the value of subjectivity in creating novelty, innovation, and diversity. Most of all it challenges us to understand the process through which the two can be successfully integrated to create synergies.