Vicci Ho is a writer, film programmer and producer. She has written for Variety and worked for film festivals across the globe, including Toronto International Film Festival, Zurich Film Festival and directed the Hong Kong Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.  She is the President of Janitor Interactive: a production company specializing in games.

This is her personal page.

Who is in control?

I think it is an inherent part of human nature to think we are in control of all that is us and all that is around us. I think it is fair to say that most, if not all humans, think they are in control of their own thoughts, their activities, their behaviour. Science and medicine, however, have already proved that to be false. But what of technology? It is human invention that allowed us to be the dominant species on this planet, after all. But, are we as in control of what we have created than we think we are? I would like to believe that we are, I really, really do. But as I am sitting here typing, I am thinking how long it took me to learn how to type on the QWERTY keyboard. I have read the keyboard was designed to slow typists down on a typewriter to avoid the key bars colliding with each other as it hits the tape...whatever the reason, it is the most commonly used keyboard and most of us have to learn to adapt to it. I became so reliant on this keyboard, that whenever I travel to Europe and a keyboard is slightly varied, I feel incompetent. My typing speed grinds to a halt, I get frustrated when I can't find the key I need...without knowing it, I had become a slave to the QWERTY keyboard, and so has most people in the world. I understand there is a need for a consistency, but is this need greater than a keyboard that might be better suited to another language? For example, There are many different programs and methods for typing Chinese on a QWERTY, but logically speaking, it makes no sense that two vastly different languages should be forced to use the same system of typing.

And then, there's our smartphones.

I can't deny that I am addicted to it. It is a great piece of technology that has changed the way we are. Yes, I think it changed us, beyond making our lives more "convenient", so to speak. The first thing I realized I stopped doing is remembering phone numbers...all the numbers I can still remember are the ones I learned as a kid and teenager. Nowadays, I won't even be able to call anyone whose number is less than ten years old. This could be an age thing, but it is more likely a reliance on technology that is designed to make our lives easier. If we are organized, we no longer need to remember our schedules, phone numbers, addresses, get a map, find directions...the list goes on. I am definitely a huge fan of convenience, but I am also painfully aware that this comes with a price. The most obvious one is privacy, and I believe that once you ask someone else to host your data for you, you can't reasonably to claim full ownership on such data. (I am not arguing whether it is right or wrong, just that I believe it is the reality of the situation.) Another problem is when a device becomes everything: your schedule, phone, contact list, and for me, as I have many friends overseas, my only way to communicate with them in real time, it is only normal for one to become so attached to it.

When I am not checking my phone, I get anxious that I could be missing something important, despite the fact that it was only in the past 10 years that people could contact me all the time. Despite knowing there is no reason for me to be concerned someone will be in touch and it's going to be the end of the world if I miss the call, I worry I'd miss SOMETHING. I can say that in the past ten years, it has only happened a few times where an emergency came through while I wasn't on my phone. It is also an endless distraction: when I try to go to sleep, I spend at least 30 minutes surfing the net or watching YouTube videos. I tell myself that I need to turn my phone off before I sleep, but I can't bring myself to do it. I also keep telling myself I can go on a trip and leave my phone behind, and once again, I only managed to do it once in ten years.

I can't deny that the world of the internet, emails, video chats and smartphones have made everything easier, and it is a tremendously useful tool and makes it just so much easier to access information, communicate globally and condensing so much information into one device, but that also makes them increasingly indispensable. The smartphone is no longer just a tool, it is the embodiment of our being. When we get no emails from friends, we worry we have become irrelevant. When you travel, you fear of being unable to get online so you can't find your way around, completely forgetting the fact that I once knew how to look for maps before a trip. When I see friends talking to each other on a social network I might be concerned about not being a part of the conversation. This is the price one pays for convenience. Maybe it was better when we are more oblivious to everything that is happening around us. I feel like we have now become slaves to our own creations: maybe we are too smart for our own good.

And the Terminator hasn't even arrived yet.

Idea for mid-term project

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