In favour of boredom
A key premise of the mobile-technology game industry is that the pleasure of interactivity is preferable to boredom. Who would choose simply to sit on a train or wait in a line when you could be distracting your brain and hands with a game? Idleness, slowness, contemplation, being mentally present in a situated context have no place in this wired world. But for those who were alive before this hyperactive culture grew up around us, it was during those interstices of life's activities that we breathed, relaxed, observed, thought things over. Listen up - even the smallest fragments of your idle time have now been colonized with meaningless, addictive junk. Junk that is part of the fabric of the Spectacle...
Just as games can entrain us to enact the Spectacle, they may enable us to enact its converse. Situationists call this sort of reversal a reconstruction. Game designers have it in their power to reconstruct notions of personal awareness, choice, and agency in ways that might seriously disturb the consumerist ethos that has been prepared for us. Now, that could be really fun." (via)
I think that Laurel's nostalgia for the early days of digital interaction is a bit misplaced, but I will stand behind anyone who reminds us of our complicity in producing the society of the spectacle.
When it comes to mobile and pervasive computing, I don't worry about privacy as much as I worry about contributing to the commodification of everyday experience. I don't worry about surveillance as much as I worry that chance encounters and serendipity may disappear. I don't worry about trust as much as I worry about where we will find quiet, slow spaces for reflection.
The paper I'm working on right now involves going beyond Situationist critiques of everyday life - such as dérive and détournement - and critically evaluating strategies offered by Lefebvre, de Certeau, Benjamin and Kracauer.
For example, I've written before about the DIY ethic and its potential for creative agency, but I'm beginning to believe that simply reconfiguring the means of production (or consumption) will be insufficient. In The Mass Ornament, Kracauer writes about boredom as a way of resisting constant distraction or, in other words, defying Debord's spectacle and Lefebvre's colonisation of everyday life by the commodity. But Highmore suggests that Kracauer also shares an affinity with 1970s punk: "to declare yourself bored is not a mark of failure but the necessary precondition for the possibility of generating the authentically new (rather than the old dressed up as the new)."
If our future indeed brings computing into every facet of our daily lives, then I suspect boredom may be our best option. As Kracauer suggests: