When I think back to the start of this semester I was nervous. This was the first unit of my masters, and I was really unsure if I was smart enough to do it. I was also unsure how to juggle working full time, studying part time and still taking some time out for me. When I enrolled in IFN612 I remember thinking “Why do I have to do a whole unit about engaging with technology”, I thought that I already knew how to engage with technology. I use technology all the time, I am an online gamer (mostly blizzard and a few steam games). I had a smart phone and admittedly only used it for the basics. At work I use iPad, tablets, and some other technologies on a daily basis… So what was I going to learn from this? It is safe to say I was wrong, and I have learnt a lot.
In week four I started to learn about something I haven’t thought about before. The digital divide. This wasn’t something that I have thought about in depth before. It was eye opening and something I became extremely interested in. The more I read about it the more I felt that there was a great social injustice in the world (well at least another one). It was more complex than I had originally thought about and it wasn’t until I sat down and thought about it that I really understood that it just much more than access to technology. People need to have the skills to use said technology.
So much of our lives are rooted in the internet. When I wrote about access to the internet as a human right I was amazed at how the internet has taken over the world in a relatively short time. We need the internet everything from looking up a phone number, to accessing education. It is engrained in our daily lives, probably more than people are aware of. I know that I wasn’t consciously aware of how dependent I was on the internet until I switched off for the day. I struggled, and honestly couldn’t wait to get back on the internet the next day, I actually missed it!
This switching off play activity was one of two play activities that have stayed with me. I realised that while I don’t need the internet to live it makes my life so much easier. And if I had tried to do the switching off activity on a work day I don’t know what would have happened. We had internet go down at work recently (thanks a lot Telstra), and my kids were distraught. They couldn’t continue researching recycling and dinosaurs on the iPad or interactive whiteboard. I had to go and find a relaxation cd for rest time because we always use YouTube as a visual for the children that don’t want to rest.
But on a more personal level I realised that I am extremely fortunate to have the skills and equipment to access the internet. And if I am being honest until a few weeks ago I had spare laptops and tablets (from upgrades) sitting in a draw in my lounge room. Just sitting there and doing absolutely nothing because I had bought something new and shiny. The thought of them being there actually made me feel a little sick and guilty. So I went in search of somewhere that I could donate them where they would go to people that needed them. After a bit of searching I found that Givit which has a range of needed items and the reasons why. I donated more than the computers and felt like maybe this small donation has the chance to change these people’s lives.
The other play activity that impacted my life in a positive way was the quantified-self movement. I have always had sleep problems and constantly have felt tired no matter how many hours sleep I am getting. This was because my brain just wouldn’t shut down enough to go into a deep sleep. It was something that I have kind of become use to, I have a daily red bull in order to have enough energy to get to work, then I would have some no doze at lunch and be exhausted by the end of the day and crawl into bed most days around 9pm as I didn’t have the energy to be awake any longer. And the next day I would repeat the cycle. When I tracked my sleep I realised there was a valid reason I was so tired, I hardly got any sleep, because I was restless most of the night.
So I kept tracking my sleep and am happy to announce over the past two months I have been able to find some ways to increase the quality of my sleep. Not that I can recommend them! If I have a drink with dinner I am able to fall into a deep sleep for a couple of hours. Though if I do this two days in a row it doesn’t work as well the second day. I also tried exercising after work and found this this was my worst idea ever! As I couldn’t sleep for hours afterwards. Without the play activity of quantifying myself I probably wouldn’t have ever done this kind of research into myself.
This unit was not at all what I was expecting. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in a new topic every fortnight. It also helped me to realise that while I might be a little reluctant and nervous to engage with technology I am fully capable of engaging with new technologies when push comes to shove. I am just the type of person that will read a few blogs, watch some YouTube videos before I do it. I am grateful for this unit and I am glad that I did it in my first semester because I am now more aware of who I am as a technology user, and it was definitely a fun and engaging unit to start my masters on.