Illustration by Susana Gomez Baez
[O]nce upon a time, Ramona Pringle owned a flip phone. Then one day, it snapped in two. Cue dramatic horror music.
Pringle became disconnected from the world. When she moved cities, the situation worsened. She had no alarm to wake her in the morning, no way to stay in touch with her parents and no means of mobile contact. It was a 21st century catastrophe.
Nowadays, we all seem to be at a loss without technology.
This is the premise that fuelled the production of rdigitalife, a new Ryerson-based web series that premiers in February.
Pringle, a new media professor at Ryerson University and media virtuoso, collaborated with the university to host the series. The show explores the interconnection between our digital and real lives and just why we rely so much on our gadgets and gizmos.
“We’re all totally plugged in, and that’s not going to change any time soon,” Pringle said. “This is the new reality. And we need to be informed in order to make conscious choices.”
Ryerson approached Pringle with the concept last summer, in collaboration with Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, the Faculty of Communication and Design and Radio Television and Arts faculty.
“We wanted to blend innovation and the culture of exploration with what’s new in the human experience,” Pringle said.
A self-proclaimed storyteller and geek, Pringle was a natural fit for the job.
The programme drew inspiration from some fairly unusual sources, including TED Talks, Cool Hunter, and even World of Warcraft, an online role-playing game that Pringle has played under the alias of “Tristanova” since 2010.
Like its inspirations, the series is intended to be interactive and community-based. Creators are encouraging audiences to participate in discussion about their digital lives.
“We want to foster conversation,” Pringle said. “We want people to share their stories about their experiences in the online world. There’s a personal side to it.”
Pringle especially hopes this interactivity and the series in general will resonate with university students.
“[Students] are that mix of innovation and culture that the series focuses on,” she said. “And for them, the series will be all about learning to find balance between their digital and real lives.”
The show is not structured in a typical episode format – each topic, to be launched monthly as an exploration subject, is backed by expert opinion. The likes of Clay Shirky, Scott Heiferman and Ray Kurzweil, who TIME Magazine has named the heir to the Thomas Edison legacy, all lend their expertise to the series.
rdigitialife will explore various topics about society’s relationship with the digital world, including the changing landscape of the digital environment, community and identity, and bodies and robots.
But the programme, Pringle admits, won’t be without controversy.
“Some people will agree, some won’t,” she said. “We just want to give them enough information so they can make their own decisions.”
For now, Pringle hopes viewers will use the series to reflect on what is means to exist in a excessively wired world.
After all, she says, “We’re just humans.”
(And in case you were wondering, Pringle now proudly owns a BlackBerry.)
Rdigitalife premieres in February on www.rdigitallife.com.