Dec 20, 2008

Humanizing Technology

When we were planning our wedding, my wife and I agreed that we had seen too many ceremonies ruined by technological attempts to immortalize the memory. We also wanted our wedding to be intimate and fun.

So we specifically instructed the photographers and videographers to stay out of the way. We didn't want them obstructing the view of the guests. We didn't want their assistants moving around too much, carrying blind-inducing lights.


We wanted our wedding to be experienced firsthand, remembered in human memories and not through images frozen on magnetized discs. That way, the guests experience would be truly unique.

Why am I rambling about our wedding? Today, I was browsing in a second-hand bookstore and discovered Turn Signals Are The Facial Expressions Of Automobiles by Donald Norman, he who also wrote The Design of Everyday Things which I think is one of the most inspiring books on design. The first chapter ("I Go to a Sixth Grade Play") got me all excited. Here's a quote:
"Ah yes, once upon a time there was an age in which people went to enjoy themselves, unencumbered by technology, with the memory of the event retained within their own heads. Today we use our artifacts to record the event, and the act of recording then becomes the event."
Spot on!

How many times have we fidgeted through the controls of our recording gadgets while that once-in-a-lifetime event passed us by? Is stupidly designed technology interrupting our ability to experience an event in more human form?

Here's more of Chapter One:
"Probably we've all seen a wedding reception, an event meant to be full of spontaneous expressions of joy, transformed by the photographer into a series of staged events. 'Kiss the bride.' 'Again, please.' 'Cut a piece of the wedding cake.' 'Would the bride feed the groom?' 'Move out of the way of the camera.' It is amazing how tolerant we have become of this manipulation of experience. The act of recording taking precedence over the event."

The setback, of course, is that having been trained videographers ourselves, we sometimes ask why we didn't have a clip of this scene during the wedding. But then we remember the basic principles we wanted to follow. It is the memory in our minds that is more important.

4 comments:

jsuplido said...

What we did in our wedding was to get my brother as the only photographer. No videographer.

We didn't have as many pictures or videos as our friends' but we enjoyed the "clutterlessness."

Martin Gomez said...

isn't it a fact that weddings, especially filipino weddings, are not complete without grand recording gadgets and personnel? ika nga, the more bongga, the better the wedding.

Mari said...

I love my digital camera and other gadgets but I agree there's nothing like savoring the moment to sear it in your memory. When I traveled to Niagara Falls years ago, our tour bus driver/guide told us: look at the falls and cherish the view, instead of madly scrambling for our cameras. Wise man.

the laurel leaf said...

at both Eraserheads Reunion concerts, the darkness was lit up by thousands of blinking eyes: the audiences' still cameras and phones were recording the concert. Where fans used to raise their hands and sway in time with the music, this audience raised their hands with their recording gadgets in an attempt to capture the event. I was thinking, guys, are you here to watch and cherish this unique experience, or are you hear to record it, post it, brag AND THEN savor the digitized event?