rDigital News: Tech, trust, and Avatar Secrets

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This week, the headlines challenged us to consider how technology is influencing its users. While some say that tech has isolated us, Ramona Pringle asks if our devices have actually help connect us in new and deeper ways. Internet communities have opened us up to trusting other users online and according to recent data, our devices may even be making us happier.

So what do you think?

We ask the important questions in this week’s rDigital News roundup:

Is tech making us more connected than ever before?

This week, our host Ramona Pringle, debuted her interactive POV documentary Avatar Secrets at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival. In the documentary, produced exclusively for the iPad, Ramona uses her personal experience with online gaming to explore our connection to each other in real, and virtual, worlds.

As she traverses the terrain of World of Warcraft, Ramona discovers that in our digital world, “We are not addicted to technology, we’re addicted to each other.”

Is online tech helping us to trust each other again?

While there is no shortage of stories about the dark side of the internet, this week, Wired reported a brighter side to these online communites. According to the article published Wednesday, services like Airbnb and Lyft have gotten Americans to trust each other again.

Reporter Jason Tanz attributes this rise in trust as a side effect of the sharing economy that has emerged online in the past few years. People open up their homes to complete strangers on Airbnb and offer rides to others on Lyft, and that is becoming the cultural norm.

“The extent to which ­people are connected to each other is lower than what humans need,” NYU professor Arun Sundararajan says in the article. “Part of the appeal of the sharing economy is helping to bridge that gap.”

Bringing online connections into the real world was the basis of Scott Heiferman’s now famous site, Meetup. Hear more about our need for both online and offline connection here:

Are tech-savvy countries happier?

Sometimes it can feel like technology is controlling our lives, and we just need to unplug to connect with what is really important. But according to a recent article on Read Write, the relationship between happiness and technology is largely positive.

By cross-referencing data from a national survey on happiness with the level of technical development in various countries, statisticians observed a positive correlation between happiness and countries that can be considered “tech-savvy.”

For more on being tech-happy, check out our interview with Happathon founder, John Havens:



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