Technology and social networks have changed the way in which we interact with one another. It has also made what used to be private information readily available to anyone who looks, Glass said.
“How is it changing both our culture and the way we communicate?,” he asked.
The display includes photos and screen captures from his phone, with interconnecting lines.
Pointing to the photo he took in India, which features as the central piece of his display, he points to the decrepit cement-block homes, with their colourful, peeling paint and satellite dishes.
“They don’t have running water … but they have satellite TV,” he said.
Glass is working on his master’s in Intercultural and International Communication.
He created this wall piece to get people think about how we interact with technology, basing it on the theories of French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze.
Glass based his presentation on Deleuze’s 1990 article, Postscript on the Societies of Control. Despite being nearly two-dozen-years old and written one year before the World Wide Web was even born, it relates powerfully to our current society of virtual networks and relationships, Glass said.
Some praise our ability to communicate with people we never could have before, while others claim that the rise of virtual communication is stifling our very humanity, he said.
Glass states that the very connectedness of people from such a variety of cultures is eroding the differences between those cultures, as they watch Western entertainment such as Friends.
“A lot of that (cultural difference) is being lost by the connectivity,” he said.
“To me it looks like we are going down the road of less and less nations.”
In his eyes, there are benefits and detriments to this uber-connectivity.
During a forum Glass held last week, to open discussion about the display, a young man declared that this communication is beneficial.
Glass remembers how the young man brought up that not much bad can happen in the world today and be kept under wraps. As an example, he brought up how the Arab Spring in Libya and Egypt was greatly assisted by social networks such as Twitter.
“With the loss of privacy, there is a lot less ability (for governments) to cover things up,” Glass added.
Despite that, Glass doesn’t believe it is all good news.
“I think a negative is the stuff that is unknown. All your movements and actions can be monitored so subtly.”
Glass points to how advertising on social networking sites and email accounts are extremely specific as to what that the user has ‘liked’, searched for or commented on.
Glass even points to the possibility of people’s fundamental beliefs and voting preferences being influenced by the sophisticated observation and personalized advertising that is reality through the Internet.
“I think a negative is the stuff that is unknown. All your movements and actions can be monitored so subtly.” - Barry Glass
“There is a loss of solitude … yet (greater) isolation,” Glass said.
Despite having all of this connectivity, a lot of people choose to spend time chatting online instead of physically getting together, Glass said.
“They’re logging onto their computer and talking that way. Humans are social animals, but are we really fulfilling that social need, by doing it just over a computer?” he asked.
“It’s more communication, but it is less meaningful communication,” he said.
Deleuze spoke about that as well, Glass said.
“A society of control isn’t about restricting freedom of speech, but to make it so that everybody is talking so that it’s meaningless. There is so much communication that it’s impossible to cut through it all.”
While he has his doubts about some aspects of this interconnected web of communication between people, he appreciates and takes advantage of others.
Glass is himself a virtual student studying from afar. A student at Royal Roads University in Victoria, B.C., he studies here in Prince Albert.
“I like this a lot more than I dislike anything about it,” he acknowledged.
With GPS technology and the constant, and often willful, observation of our every movement, comment, picture post, status update and online ‘like’, privacy has become less of a priority for many.
“There’s less and less privacy … but most people seem to think that’s OK,” Glass said.
They enjoy the conveniences of modern communication technology enough to compensate for the lack of privacy, he said.
“By and large they wouldn’t want to go back.”
Despite enjoying the perks and convenience of being tapped-in at all times, he does believe it is important to ask questions about the consequences.
If we lose cultural diversity through intense cross-cultural communication, have we gained something in return?
“It’s a little something extra to think about,” Glass said.
Glass can be found at the Bison Café on Central Avenue, which is owned and operated by his wife, Laura Moser.
“If anyone wants to drop in by for a chat, I’m available,” Glass said.
What the truth is may only be seen with any clarity through the eyes of the future, but whatever the reality is, it is undoubtedly impacting and changing our day-to-day lives now; “Whether you think of it as Big Brother, or just the convenience of technology.”