Never more than now has technology’s role and function in our every-day lives become more clear. Working from home (in the era of Coronaviurs) has forced many not only to make use of the most recent technologies made available to them, but indeed to rely on them to maximize their productivity. In-person meetings are gone. They’ve been replaced by Google doodles used to schedule conference calls. Photocopies and handouts are a thing of the past. They’ve been bested by scanned pdfs effortlessly expediated via e-mail or uploaded to a large hosting domain. Even traditional learning methods have become substituted by interactive exercises that simulate the gaming experience while also mimicking traditional classroom scaffolding. These gadgets have become the new gods in our results-driven society.
A number of recently-published books, articles, and short stories have examined these new technologies at work and their impact on our culture and generational identities. I assigned a few to my 250 students last semester, more notably, Alessandro Baricco’s The Game (reviewed here) and Stefano Benni’s Hänsel@Gretl.com (from Cari Mostri). I then asked them to reflect on these “new gods'” influence on a specific professional sector or to imagine their impact on someone’s daily life.
David Shanks spent some time in Recanati, a small town in the Marche region of Italy and far from the fast-paced realities of a major metropolis like Rome or Milan. So it came rather naturally for him, I think, to envision the life of an elderly woman, Paola, faced with the new challenges of an increasingly tech-driven world. He gives a snapshot of Paola’s world in the short story “Cybernonna,” which he has narrated in the recording below.
“Cybernonna,” David Shanks, 2019.