Last month when I was at the annual Medinge summer meeting, I talked to Patrick Harris about technology use.
He told me how his 17yr old daughter refers to the whole category of internet-enabled music, video, info or text devices we now use with just one word: “Screens.”
Somehow this remark has stuck with me. This is not just a teenagers indifferent throw away description of the different hight-tech devices we surround ourselves with. It’s a succinct description of what these devices give us, a window on our information.

A bunch of screens within 2 meters of me, while writing this

When I grew up, different info was locked into different devices and to different carriers. Now it really does not make a difference if I watch my Flickr summer holiday pics on my phone, my laptop, my tv, my iPod, my camera, my game console or any other of the internet/cloud connected devices in our household. They’re all screens. Whatever device is closest to grab will do for the moment. The label ‘screens’ shows detachment regarding the device or carrier, as long as it provides access. A very networked age sentiment. Reminds me of an old blog posting from 2005 on teenage technology use.
At the same time it makes me think about ‘non-screens’, the now emerging category of internet connected things and objects that aren’t screens, but more like application enriched, space and time aware everyday objects. Like your umbrella knowing there won’t be rain today. Like the Nabaztag reading out status messages. Weasly Clocks (wikipedia) like things (though strictly speaking the Weasly Clock maybe counts as a screen).