We live in a hyperconnected world that moves forward into new realms every minute — like augmented virtual reality for business uses being explored on Georgia Institute of Technology’s campus in Atlanta, and that means even more consumption of news and data of all kinds, synthesized and scrubbed for your viewing. Hyperconnected is often described as a term for “people who feel they need to communicate virtually — via email, mobile phone or text — 24 hours a day.” Several recent research findings have shown that some hyperconnected individuals may even wake up during the night to check whether or not they have been contacted. Companies like Ericsson have predicted that connected devices could outnumber connected people by a ratio of six to one by 2020, and the scramble to make sense of that shows up in sociology discussions.
The multi-channel, multi-device approach to communications is accelerating for all of us, and data actually supports predictions that by 2020, the next young adult generation will be wired differently. Jack Loechner’s March 2012 Research Brief from the Center for Media Research looked at “The Impact of Hyperconnectivity,” and discovered that more than 55 percent of those surveyed believe that this statement will be true:
“In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are wired differently from those over age 35, and overall, it yields helpful results. They do not suffer notable cognitive shortcomings as they multitask and cycle quickly through personal and work-related tasks. Rather, they are learning more and they are more adept at finding answers to deep questions, in part because they can search effectively and access collective intelligence via the Internet.”
But other experts, such as David Ellis, director of communications studies at York University, disagree. He indicated that he sees the hyperconnectivity experience making them less productive, and adds that most of them do not understand the digital tools, according to the report.
As public relations practitioners, we really do not have time to debate what is upon us. Statistics in a number of categories prove out this intensity of hyperconnections, from no “real” vacations away from phones and tablet devices, to the mushrooming of new social networks with new learning curves that start with expanding personal networks, such as Pinterest and Google’s Goggles, but will grow into even more important business toolsets as time goes on.