Reading Further on Two Topics: 1) The Power of Walking in the Human Experience; and
2) How the Internet Age is Changing the Human Experience
By Nancy L. Frey, PhD
To read further on the benefits of walking and how digital age technologies are impacting our daily lives, here is a list of references – books, articles and websites. This list is by no means a complete list of references on the topic and I update this list periodically.
BOOKS ON THE POWER OF WALKING IN THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE:
Gros, Frederic. 2014. A Philosophy of Walking. Verso.
Originally published in French in 2011, this work from a philosopher's point of view emphasizes the benefits of the simple life and the power the simple act of walking, of putting one foot in front of the other, has on our psyches.
Hanh, Thich Nhat. 2015. How to Walk (Mindfulness Essentials #4). Parallax Press.
A simple guide written by a Buddhist monk who approaches walking as a meditative practice to help the individual achieve presence: “When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.” He offers simple, clear ideas to make walking a practice that will calm and soothe your overworked, distracted mind.
O'Mara, Shane. 2019. In Praise of Walking. The new science of how we walk and why it's good for us. London: The Bodley Head
This neuroscientist from Dublin describes walking as a mental and physical activity fundamental to the human experience and expounds the numerous benefits walking has for our health, creativity, emotional well-being and thought processes.
Solnit, Rebecca. 2000. Wanderlust: A History of Walking. NY: Viking
A significant treatise on walking covering many disciplines to trace the history of walking through the ages that emphasizes the importance of how we need to keep walking despite our accelerated lives.
BOOKS ON HOW THE INTERNET IS IMPACTING HUMANITY:
Carr, Nicholas. 2011. The Shallows. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains. NY: WW Norton.
Crawford, Matthew. 2015. The World Beyond Your Head. On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Diamond, Jared. 2012. The World Until Yesterday. NY: Penguin
Gazzaley, A., & Rosen, L. D. 2016. The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Harari, Yuval Noah. 2017. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow. NY: Vintage
A must read on how humanity is evolving towards its cyborg future. What's happening on the Camino is simply a reflection of the world writ-large. It may be disturbing to some readers by his blunt approach but his ideas are worth reflecting on.
Harari, Yuval Noah. 2018. 21 Lessons For the 21st Century. Spiegel & Grau
"In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power. Censorship works not by blocking the flow of information, but rather by flooding people with disinformation and distractions. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century cuts through these muddy waters and confronts some of the most urgent questions on today’s global agenda." (Quote from Harari's website about the book: https://www.ynharari.com/book/21-lessons/)
Laramie, David, 2007. Emotional and Behavioral Aspects of Mobile Phone Use. (PhD diss., Alliant University International, 2007)
Lightman, Alan. 2018. In Praise of Wasting Time. TED Books: Simon & Schuster.
"Our most important human capacities - for creativity and our relationships to ourselves and others - are under attac by our preoccupation with our devices. We need new practices to turn this around and reclaim our humanity. Lightman's special achievement is to make this familiar story come alive with personal urgency and new clarity. What has for too long seemed like a contentious position is here presented as compassionate common sense. For isn't it simple commeon sense to do what will make us stay human?" Sherry Turkle's review on back jacket. Very well said. This book is a great companion to the book referenced above - In Praise of Walking- put them together and it all makes sense.
Miller, D, et.al. 2016. How the World Changed Social Media. London: UCL Press. Link to online pdf version: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1474805/1/How-the-World-Changed-Social-Media.pdf . The main volume (of 11 titles) in the Why We Post (see website below) ethnograpy series focusing on global social media use.
Soojung-Kim Pang, Alex. 2013. The Distraction Addiction. Getting the Information you Need and the Communication You Want. Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues, and Destroying Your Soul. NY: Little Brown
Steiner-Adair, Catherine. 2013. The Big Disconnect. Protecting Childhood and Family relationships in the Digital Age. NY: Harper
Turkle, Sherry. 2011. Alone Together. Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other. NY: Basic Books.
ASSA - Anthropology of Smartphones and Smartageing
Ambitious cross-cultural, comparative project aimed to explore ageing, health and smartphone usage in 10 different field sites around the world (North America not included). With the rise of mobile phone usage around the world researchers are now developing the field of "digital anthropology". The 5-year project began in October 2017 with fieldwork commencing in Feb 2018. From the site: "For us ‘smart ageing’ means recognising that middle-age is being re-defined in the digital era, including via the creative appropriation of technology." The project is sponsored by the University College of London.
Digital Detox - http://digitaldetox.org/
Started by form Silicon Valley tech employees who realized how the digital world impacted adversely the human experience. They founded a company to help people “detox” from their devices by creating tech free weekends for adults. Read the Digital Detox manifesto: http://digitaldetox.org/manifesto/
Why We Post: Social Media Through the Eyes of the World
A University College of London (UCL) project to explore, employing anthopological methodology, social media usage and its consequences cross-culturally. "We need to understand the consequences of social media for people all around the world" and not assume that usage and meaning can be universally defined. The project began in 2016. The website provides "discoveries" of the global researchers' investigations, such as,
1) "Social media is not making us more individualistic"; 4) "Equality online doesn't mean equality offline"; 10) "Social media has created new spaces for groups between the public and private."
ARTICLES SPECIFIC TO THE CAMINO:
Walking the Camino in the Age of Wi-Fi
Challenger, Douglas. 14 May 2016, Blog: Onbeing.org
Great reflections on the Camino
Leaving Home and Coming Back: Reflections on Doing the Camino Pre-Internet and in 2018
Frey, Nancy L, In the book by ed. Priestley, Andrew. 2018 (Aug). My Camino Walk #2, pp. 153-169. UK: Writing Matters Publishing.
Reflective personal piece that I wrote looking back on my 1993 Camino and my experiences pre-Internet and how my mental isolation from my home life, incredibly difficult to achieve now in the Internet Age, was crucial in the profound changes and insights that I experienced on that first journey. I have posted a link to the article on the Walking to Presence website here:
Thoughts on Camino Apps
Jennings, David. La Concha Newsletter, Winter 2014, p. 16 (www.americanpilgrims.com)
Reflection piece after taking a tech survey:“Solitude and the commune with nature give voice to the inner person. Now, we are asked what technical instruments, what apps, do we need to make the pilgrimage? Who could ever imagine a pilgrim needing an app to ﬁnd a restroom? Is there an app for living responsibly, for overcoming greed and ego?”
Experience of the Camino in 8 words
Marion, 16 Aug 2017, Blog: Santiagoinlove.com
Blog entry on lessons from Camino from a blog called Santiago in Love.Well-stated words of wisdom from the Camino
Learning to Live Without Technology on the Camino de Santiago
Támara, E.J. 10 Sept 2015, Mashable.com
” while the ideal of a simple life without technology is seductive, the reality was complicated. Hiking without so much as a watch can make you feel insecure, stressed and fearful. And the use of technology by others at times made it impossible for me to avoid it.”
Pilgrimage: Ancient Practice Now with Some Modern Tensions
Watkins, Steven. 8 October 2017 (Retrieved 1 Dec 2018), Blog: Stevewatkins.org
Interview between the blog's author Steven Watkins and the Communication PhD student Roni Jackson-Kerr discussing her research on the role of tech in pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. She argues that the "tension between convenience and presence" in using digital devices is an important factor for pilgrims in the Internet Age.
Beyond Self-Report: Tools to Compare Estimated and Real-World Smartphone Use.
Andrews Sally, Ellis DA, Shaw H, Piwek L (28 Oct 2015: Plos One)
Academic article dealing with inconsistencies between self-reported and real smartphone use. "We conclude that estimated smartphone use should be interpreted with caution in psychological research."
Will 2018 be the year of the neo-luddite?
Bartlett, Jamie. 4 Mar 2018, TheGuardian.com
The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature
Berman, Marc G, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan. Psychological Science, 19, no. 12 (December 2008): 1207-12.
What is the role of dopamine in reward: hedonic impact, reward learning, or incentive salience? Berridge, Kent C. and Terry E. Robinson, : Brain Research Reviews, 28, 1998. 309–369
The Binge Breaker. Tristan Harris believes Silicon Valley is addicting us to our phones. He’s determined to make it stop.
Bosker, Bianca. Nov 2016, TheAtlantic.com
Silicon Valley Is Not Your Friend
Cohen, Noam. 3 Oct 2017, New York Times
“We are beginning to understand that tech companies don’t have our best interests at heart. Did they ever?”
Explosion In Sex Dolls Threatens Japanese Race With "Extinction"
Durden, Tyler. 25 July 2018. Website: www.zerohedge.com
Part and parcel of our digital dependency is a preference for the company of artificial intelligence rather than potentially complicated human interactions. Not a very good boon for humanity's future.
Another article focusing on the mental, emotional and physical benefits of walking based on neuroscientist Shane O'Mara's work and practice. His book In Praise of Walking (Vintage, June 2019) describes how our minds and bodies in motion increase our well-being and creativity.
Yonquis de internet: las redes sociales admiten el truco para engancharte
Herrero, Amado. 10 Enero 2018, ElMundo.com
'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia
Lewis, Paul. 6 Oct 2017, TheGuardian.com
“Google, Twitter and Facebook workers who helped make technology so addictive are disconnecting themselves from the internet. Paul Lewis reports on the Silicon Valley refuseniks alarmed by a race for human attention.”
Levi Felix, a Proponent of Disconnecting from Technology, Dies at 32
Mele, Christopher. 12 Jan 2017, New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
Former Silicon Valley success and founder of the company Digital Detox says in article: “I’m a geek, I’m not a Luddite,” Mr. Felix told The Times in 2012. “I love that technology connects us and is taking our civilization to the next level, but we have to learn how to use it, and not have it use us.”
Sean Parker on Facebook: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’
Ong, Thuy. 9 Nov 2017, TheVerge.com
“Sean Parker former Facebook exec admits to creating addiction among users. Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and former president of Facebook, said the thought process behind building the social media giant was: "How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?" Parker was interviewed by Axios' Mike Allen Wednesday:
"That means that we needed to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever ... It's a social validation feedback loop ... You're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology ... [The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway."
“Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments. “It's exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators — it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway." In other words, using Facebook is like junk food: you get instant gratification when you post for likes and comments. It’s quick and easy but has little substance.”
Social Media Is Making Us Dumber. Here’s Exhibit A.
Pinker, Steven. 11 Jan 2018, Editorial New York Times.com
“Steven Pinker is a liberal, Jewish professor. But social media convinced people that he’s a darling of the alt-right.”
How Technology Makes Us Anxious. 5 ways technology feeds anxiety.
Reilly, Katie. 27 Mar 2018, Website: PsychologyToday.com
Reflecting on a study of 1 million American teens that shows that their online screen time negatively impacts their mental state, the author comments on how tech insulates the individual from reality leaving them more vulnerable, insulates the individual from other people thereby decreasing positive socialbility and social skills, and tends to lead to insecurities related to social media pressure and image consciousness - not meeting up to others' seemingly perfect and successful lives.
Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome: What does it tell us about our obsession with technology?
Rosen, Larry. 7 May 2013, PsychologyToday.com
The Art of Switching Off: How to Go Phone-Free.
Rossiter, Joanna. 26 Feb 2019, Life.Spectator.co.uk
Reflections by a journalist on what is to be gained from disengagement from your mobile phone. When she had her first baby she went tech-free for six months and found greater presence, productivity and awareness.
Lorenzo Silva: por qué he dejado Twitter
Silva, Lorenzo. 10 enero 2018, ElMundo.com
The Power of Presence, How “Living in the Now” Can Change Your Life
Stark, Allie. 25 Sept 2016, Collective-Evolution.com
Describes how leaving her phone at home one day allowed her to be more present and appreciate the world around her.
Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats
Streitfeld, David. 12 Oct 2017, New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
“American tech companies positioned themselves as entities that brought positive change by connecting people and spreading information. Perceptions are shifting.”
Google Doesn’t Want What’s Best for Us
Taplin, Jonathan. 12 Aug 2017, PsychologyToday.com
“America has held a largely romantic view of the tech industry that is at odds with reality.” https://nyti.ms/2uQROWg
Decreases in psychological well-being among American adolescents after 2012 and links to screen time during the rise of smartphone technology.
Twenge, JeanM., Martin, Gabrielle N., Campbell, W. Keith. Emotion, Vol 18 (6), Sep 2018, 765-780.
The online abstract reads: "In nationally representative yearly surveys of United States 8th, 10th, and 12th graders 1991–2016 (N = 1.1 million), psychological well-being (measured by self-esteem, life satisfaction, and happiness) suddenly decreased after 2012. Adolescents who spent more time on electronic communication and screens (e.g., social media, the Internet, texting, gaming) and less time on nonscreen activities (e.g., in-person social interaction, sports/exercise, homework, attending religious services) had lower psychological well-being. Adolescents spending a small amount of time on electronic communication were the happiest. Psychological well-being was lower in years when adolescents spent more time on screens and higher in years when they spent more time on nonscreen activities, with changes in activities generally preceding declines in well-being. Cyclical economic indicators such as unemployment were not significantly correlated with well-being, suggesting that the Great Recession was not the cause of the decrease in psychological well-being, which may instead be at least partially due to the rapid adoption of smartphones and the subsequent shift in adolescents’ time use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)" Link to abstract and online reference: https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Femo0000403
Why We're All Addicted to Texts, Twitter and Google. Dopamine makes you addicted to seeking information in an endless loop.
Weinschenk, Susan.. 11 Sept 2012, PsychologyToday.com
Good article from Psychology Today on how dopamine affects our brains and keeps us coming back for more. She references the Berridge, et,al, article (see above) on dopamine.
Big Other: Surveillance Capitalism and the Prospects of an Information Civilization.
Zuboff, Shoshana. Journal of Information Technology (2015) 30: 75-89, doi:10.1057/jit.2015.5. Link to online reference available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2594754
Abstract reads: "This article describes an emergent logic of accumulation in the networked sphere, ‘surveillance capitalism,’ and considers its implications for ‘information civilization.’ Google is to surveillance capitalism what General Motors was to managerial capitalism. Therefore the institutionalizing practices and operational assumptions of Google Inc. are the primary lens for this analysis as they are rendered in two recent articles authored by Google Chief Economist Hal Varian. Varian asserts four uses that follow from computer-mediated transactions: ‘data extraction and analysis,’ ‘new contractual forms due to better monitoring,’ ‘personalization and customization,’ and ‘continuous experiments.’ An examination of the nature and consequences of these uses sheds light on the implicit logic of surveillance capitalism and the global architecture of computer mediation upon which it depends. This architecture produces a distributed and largely uncontested new expression of power that I christen: ‘Big Other.’ It is constituted by unexpected and often illegible mechanisms of extraction, commodification, and control that effectively exile persons from their own behavior while producing new markets of behavioral prediction and modification. Surveillance capitalism challenges democratic norms and departs in key ways from the centuries long evolution of market capitalism."
Zuboff, an emeritus professor and currently associated with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, makes very compelling arguments regarding the role of corporations, such as Google, invested in the commodification of information generated through utilization of their online products, in the development of new forms of power and social control which she dubs the Big Other, referring intentionally to Aldous Huxley's dystopian novel 1984 which imagined a world where people's lives were controlled by a totalitarian regime through dominating the world of information and media. Instead of Big Brother, we have the Big Other, where key players are evident in the process of information control but society in general is often unaware and even participatory in their own acceptance of 'surveillance capitalism' and commodification of their experiences which theerby generates enormous benefits for those companies that utilize and control data.