Last November, Clive Thompson wrote "The rules of panic", a one-page opinion piece that appeared in Wired. In it, he builds on an argument made by Intel's director of interaction and experience research, Genevieve Bell, that some technologies are certain to provoke moral panics.
Bell asserts that panic-worthy technologies:
- Change our relationship to time;
- Change our relationship to space; and
- Change our relationship to each other.
A shift on one or two of these dimensions is not enough; unsettling technologies wind up shifting our interactions on all three fronts.
Interestingly, Thompson names social book reading as one of the technologies that will create a sense of panic in the populace. There aren't too many people pushing the boundaries of social reading – Bob Stein and Travis Alber come to mind – and the reaction to date has been less than embracing. Maybe Genevieve Bell offers a credible sense of why we resist.