Kleinman considers technology, efficiency

By on September 23, 2009

Professor of Communications Sharon Kleinman is the editor of “The Culture of Efficiency: Technology in Everyday Life,” published this past August by Peter Lang Publishing.

The book is a collection of 21 essays that discuss how people are adjusting to technological developments in the digital age. The writers are experts from a broad range of disciplines, including communications, sociology, psychology, computer science, business, cultural studies, healthcare, education, history, urban studies, disability studies and environmental studies.

“We live in a media and communication technology saturated environment, and I’m just fascinated with how technology impacts people at every aspect of their life,” Kleinman said.

The book has four parts: “Birth Eat Connect,” “Work Play Rest,” “Speed Multitask Displace” and “Balance Breathe Renew.” Kleinman penned the introduction and conclusion, although her “fingerprint is on every chapter,” she said.

Associate Professor of Psychology Penny Leisring, Professor of Computer Design Mark A. Hoffman and Professor of Psychology Carrie A. Bulger each contributed a chapter. Leisring wrote “Stalking Made Easy: How Information and Communication Technologies Are Influencing the Way People Monitor and Harass One Another,” and Hoffman and Bulger co-wrote “Whither Boundaries? The Internet and the Blurring of Work and Personal Life.”

Her new book is an outgrowth of her first book, “Displacing Place,” published in 2007 by Peter Lang Publishing. The book is intended for anyone who is interested in social and technological trends.

“While the first book focused on mobile communication and information technologies, the new book focuses on technologies of all sorts,” Kleinman said. “This is the kind of book where you see some chapters of interest and read them and get something out of it, you don’t have to read the whole book.”

This collection of essays explores the need for efficiency in our culture – as implied by the title – when it comes to technology and its consequences, and its impact on multitasking.

“‘The Culture of Efficiency’ was my initial title idea, but in the two months before it went to press I was going back and forth with my editor at the publisher about titles,” Kleinman said. “It was possibly going to be called ‘Real Time,’ which is kind of cool but what does it mean; it was going to be called ‘Killing Time,’ which is kind of negative. It ultimately came back to the title that we wanted in the beginning.”

Kleinman did express some doubts about the final title, since “culture of efficiency” is unlikely to be a popular search term.

“They’re always looking like they’re going with a purpose,” Kleinman said. “People are more connected, but then there’s this paradox because they’re more connected elsewhere.”

Currently, she is working on a third book. It will be a collection of 400 short essays written by Kleinman herself, and each essay will be about 200 words long. It will read like a dictionary in the sense that it is in alphabetical order, and contains media and communication terms, theories, and concepts.

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