Running After Time: Temporality, Technology, and Power

Running After Time: Temporality, Technology, and Power

Ivone Neiva Santos (University of Porto, Portugal) and José Azevedo (University of Porto, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8163-5.ch002

Abstract

We live in a paradoxical age marked by the widespread perception that life is faster than it used to be, that quick access to people and information will free us to do other things, and simultaneously, most of us have experienced this creeping sense that time is slipping out of our control. That perception is a source of concern and even anguish considering the need we feel to follow the pace “imposed” by technology. The chapter starts by exploring the concept of time, from Heidegger's notion of time as temporality, the lived time, to the concept of real time, inherited from human-computer interaction studies, reflecting the immediacy and simultaneity that characterizes temporality in the digital age. The chapter discusses different perspectives of temporality, considering its relations to technology and power in four main intersections: temporality and technology, temporality and real time, temporality and power, and temporality and deceleration.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

We live in a paradoxical age marked by the widespread perception that life is faster than it used to be, and that quick access to people and information will free us to do other things. Simultaneously, most of us have experienced this creeping sense that time is slipping out of our control. This perception is a source of concern and even anguish, considering the need we feel to follow the pace “imposed” by technology.

For this reason, temporality in modern societies has been a subject of reflection and debate in social sciences. It is possible to find divergent perspectives, namely in what concerns to acceleration or its relationship with technological development, phenomenon, and relation that we usually associate to contemporaneity. This chapter starts by exploring the concept of time, from Heidegger’s (2003) notion of time as temporality, the lived time, to the concept of real time, inherited from human-computer interaction studies (Sora, Jordà & Codina, 2017), reflecting the immediacy and simultaneity that characterizes temporality in the digital age. It then discusses different perspectives of temporality, considering three main intersections: Temporality and technology, temporality and real time, and temporality and power.

The sensation of being “pressed for time” or “against the clock” became common in modern life, that now goes hastily at the rhythm of real time. It is the rhythm of the immediacy, which digital media made possible, that transforms our temporal experiences, now increasingly characterized by speed and ubiquity. This results in the perception of a continuous time, homogeneous and globalized, over which we have no control. In literature, real time appears frequently associated to astronomic time. It is a unique, universal time that overlaps the chronology of events that happen in a local, historical moment. On the other hand, chronological time, allowing for the organization and synchronization of human activities, had and still has a fundamental role in our daily life and in societies, and is recognized as an essential factor in the development of capitalism. If, as Castells (2010) or Virilio (2000) state, real time is a key-element of the current phase of the development of capitalism, which Jameson (1991) baptized as “late capitalism”, the relation between the two dimensions of time reveals itself complex. This complexity is reflected in the paradoxical character of contemporary temporality and in the diversity of perspectives that can emerge in its analysis. Indeed, it is possible to find approaches that identify temporality as univocal and characterized by acceleration (as in Virilio’s view), but also others that recognize different temporalities with different and interdependent speeds (for instance, Sharma, 2017). This second field may include authors that find mainly social reasons to that differentiation and authors, such as Wajcman (2008), that value personal appropriation, signing the individual capacity to define personalized temporalities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Temporality: The condition of being bound in time. The perception of lived time.

Social Acceleration: The transformation of the temporal structures of societies caused by social dynamics.

Time Acceleration: Subjective perception that time tends to speed up in our contemporary daily lives. Rushing to do more in less time. Fragmentation of time dedicated to different activities.

Technological Determinism: The idea that technology dictates the direction of its social structure and cultural values. Changes in technology are the primary source for changes in society.

Real-Time Interaction: Direct and immediate communication, independent of time and space, simultaneously synchronous and asynchronous, global, and fragmented.

Technological Acceleration: The pace of technological progress—especially information technology—speeds up exponentially over time; possibilities offered by technology, in each historical phase, to do more and better in less time.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset