The Practice of "Technological White Space"

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Normally I like to use my "small parts" space as a place to hold stories of what my kids do so that when I go to scrapbook--I'm about a year behind in each kid's book--I will not have forgotten the cute things they have said to me.

This time I'll be talking about something that could have just as easily been placed on my other blog, "In Clear Text",  because of it's technology and communications subject matter, but since I feel it has made me a better, more connected parent (IMHO), I'll put it here and perhaps trackback from "clear text":

Right now, I'm assuming an audience of close friends that I could probably count on one hand (feel free to drop a comment below to prove me wrong), and most of them are in some Web-related profession. 

That said, you know that in the Web white space is a term that refers to the breaks on a Web page where there is no content.  White space, like commas and periods, serve as a pause or breath to delimit similar content for emphasis.  (If you didn't and you are a PSU employee might I insert a shameless promo for our "What Not to Wear on the Web" fashion show/presentation at Web Conference 2008 here.) 

People assume because of what I do that I must have a lot of new technology around my house. However, what we have done, rather by accident was to create some zones of what I call technological white space

I don't eliminate technology entirely from my home, like white space on a page, it would be too much, but we have made some choices to either remove, not upgrade, not replace, or not add certain technologies in areas of the home to get that same pause effect you get when a Web page has just the right amount of white space.

By creating the right breaks, pauses, or technological white spaces, we create more meaningful uses of our technology together as a family.

For example:

  1. By only having an upstairs and a downstairs TV, we watch our content as a family.  Just like when you see a block of text that is surrounded by white space and know it must be united by one idea, we unite to common interest around the upstairs TV.
  2. We eliminated cable TV and opted to select content on demand like Netflix, streaming from networks, Hulu, etc.  We found more quality programming that we all liked, and less of the stuff that you just settle for, park a child in front of, etc.
  3. By choosing not to replace our cordless phone, we are bound to one location for calls, thus making them shorter and focusing on the family members present in the house.
  4. Not all technology was reduced: Karenna is interested in NPR (we listen to it in the car), and we also listen to podcasts, so when she asked to make a podcast, we showed her how.

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