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Communication and «The Good Life»


Edited By Hua Wang

What is a «good life» and how can it be achieved? In this volume, communication scholars and media experts explore these fundamental questions about human existence and aspiration in terms of what a «good life» might look like in a contemporary, mediatized society. While in many ways a mediatized society brings us closer to some version of the «good life», it also leads us away from it. The affordances of new technologies seem to have shifted, for many, from an opportunity to an obligation. Rather than choosing when and where to be connected to these larger networks of information and acquaintances, we feel we must be permanently available, thus losing the luxury of controlling our time and attention.
This volume illuminates the complexity of our modern era, exploring how society can leverage exciting new opportunities whilst recognizing the complex challenges we face in a time of constant change. It helps us understand how we have come to this point and where we may be going so that we may study the opportunities and the dangers, the chances and the risks, that digital media pose in our quest for some version of «the good life».
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Chapter One: In Search of the Good Life


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In Search of the Good Life


What exactly is “the good life”?

On a mid-afternoon in January, we were in the Arctic Circle, gazing over a frozen fjord. It was pitch dark; the silence was deafening. Only a few dim lights glowing in the distance hinted at human habitation.

This was the Lofoten archipelago in Norway, 68.3333° N, 14.6667° E.

For thousands of years, people had come here in search of “the good life.” Why to this dark and remote spot? What on earth made this place so special?

We had been invited as experience design experts to help conceptualize a visitor center that would attract people from around the world. The theme was to be cod.

At first glance, fish and a sparsely populated arctic region seemed to lack the universal appeal necessary for developing a significant international audience. Yet a quick peek into the past revealed a completely different picture: Archaeological evidence suggested that Lofoten had a rich history of human habitation, industry, and trade around fishing, that spanned thousands of years starting in the Stone Age. International trade flourished and brought prosperity to the region. The place boomed, indeed, there was a bona fide “fish gold rush.” The fish, however, were not the full story of Lofoten’s success. In fact, a large part of their success was also...

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