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the manufacture of disconnection

research snapshot

In Silicon Valley, the world’s most famous site of technological innovation, technology professionals are rejecting their own inventions and disconnecting from the internet. According to reports, software developers believe their designs and algorithms “hijack” user’s brains and tether millions of people to their smart devices. These technology professionals have become “disconnectionists” – opponents to the culture of constant connection they helped create. Not only are they disconnecting from their own inventions but, in true Silicon Valley style, are also inventing internet jammers, luxury feature phones, productivity apps and other new technology-based ways of disconnecting from the internet (“technologies of disconnection”). In other words, the disconnectionists manufacture disconnection.

For my doctoral thesis, I am studying the disconnectionists and the manufacture of disconnection from the internet to understand the cultural and social implications for how people could live with digital technologies. For example, some disconnectionists believe smartphones are as alluring as cigarettes. Does that mean future smartphones could come with warning messages?