I was interviewed by How It Works, and they’ve kindly opened the content – normally published on dead trees – online.

Because I chose my Canon 7D DSLR as my favourite piece of gadgetry, some of my 1984 photos were published too. They look rather nifty in print.

Here’s an excerpt of the interview:

In this month’s Global Eye Interview, How It Works chatted to top technology journalist Aleks Krotoski who reveals what she thinks about our interactions on the world wide web, the pros and cons of social networking websites, our relationship with technology today, and the thrill of that chance encounter

Aleks Krotoski interview

How It Works: The work you do has been described in a number of ways – technology journalist, academic, television presenter, blogger, writer – which best describes you and your work?

Aleks Krotoski: That’s really difficult, and it’s why I have so many different titles. I’d like to be seen as a journalist and a researcher. I find doing research incredibly important, which is why I ended up back in academia. Staying at the bleeding edge of technology is extremely important to me, and being able to communicate the research. I’m a psychologist so I’m interested in the effects of technology on us, so if I can somehow manage to combine the two and be, I don’t know, an ‘academiologist’ something like that, it would be good.

HIW: You returned to academia later on in your career, how did you end up going back to study?

AK: In fact I presented television series’ as early as 1999 and finished in 2001, but I was frustrated with that medium because I felt that it wasn’t rich enough, it wasn’t deep enough, I wasn’t able to get as involved with the subject matter as I wanted to get. Having an academic background – both my parents are doctors with PhDs, extremely clever people – it was a natural fit for me to end up back in academia, and with the research-type background it felt quite natural. I knew that I’d be able to get into the subject. And the fascinating human phenomena that I found in this very clinical digital environment enabled me to further explore some of the humanity behind the machines.

HIW: You’ve been studying the rise of social networking – always a hot topic. If you could give one example of the positive effects of this new way of interacting, what would it be?

AK: The positive side is very easy. It’s not even just social networking. It’s about the opportunities that technology offers. I can communicate with my family: my mother is currently in India, my father is currently in Louisiana, my grandmother is in Southern California, my aunt is in New York. I am able to communicate with them in real-time, connect with them and maintain relationships that are experience-based and truly the same kinds of relationships that we would have if we were face to face [laughs] and probably better in some ways because we’re not all in each other’s faces all the time.

HIW: And one example of any negative effects as a result of the rise of social networking sites?

AK: In terms of the negatives, I would say that one of the thing that concerns me the most is that because these interactions are facilitated and mediated by computers – and therefore we’re in control of them – they don’t provide as much serendipity as I would hope human beings would experience. By that I mean chance encounters, accidentally stumbling across something. When it comes to, say, searching the web, you’re often very directed. Of course we can search by going down rabbit holes, but often it’s based upon suggestions from friends and family and it’s based on the types of things they’re interested in. It doesn’t expand your horizons nearly as much as I think that the opportunities we have face-to-face in everyday real-world encounters offer. So I think that’s one of the negatives of social networking.

Aleks Krotoski interview

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