Tag Archives: mobile

The invasion of the attention-snatchers

Using technology mindfully.  Does that sound like a phrase created by rich young white men in grey organic bamboo t-shirts? Turns out that I‘ve actually been doing it for years…  I wasn’t trying to be mindful, I just don’t like technology telling me what to do.

This morning, while mindlessly Twitter-scrolling during the kids’ swimming lessons, I found some people with interesting job titles explaining why and how to take control of our technology.

The rebirth of calm

I found this article first: The rebirth of calm: Why we need technology with manners.  Amber Case, who is a Cyborg Anthropologist (!!) talks about why technology needs to be less intrusive and more polite.

“… fancy computerised replacements threaten to overcomplicate the tiniest details of life. Imagine a fridge or an AI-studded fruit bowl that texts you when one of your bananas is rotting. That might sound nice, but Case points out that a banana already comes with a custom technology that lets you know it’s going bad: “It’s a peel,” she says.”

Time Well Spent

That first article led me to this website: Time Well Spent. They are a bunch of designers who want technology help us spend our time well. They have a manifesto (of course they do), but it makes sense.

“We believe in the possibility of better design, that lets us connect without getting sucked in. And disconnect, without missing something important.”

They also have a video of a TED talk (of course they do).

Mindful smartphones

From there I ended up reading about mindful phone use: Distracted in 2016? Reboot Your Phone with Mindfulness I can’t tell if the author Tristan Harris wears bamboo sweaters, but I do know that he used to be a Product Philosopher(!!) at Google.

His article is well worth the estimated reading time of 11 minutes and 28 seconds.  It has some simple tips on how to use your phone when you need to, and not be tempted by those shiny pretty colourful apps.

“We live in an Attention Economy. That means every app and website … is trying to get you to come back and spend more time. Companies literally have teams of people called Growth Hackers, whose job is to invent new reasons (notifications) and new persuasive tactics to bring you back.”

I don’t think that we are weak or stupid, but there are just much smarter people whose jobs are to keep us app-happy and alert-addicted.

Lessons learned

  1. We have limited capacity to pay attention. Technological fun is unlimited. It’s not a fair fight, so we have to try harder.
  2. If you use frog legs instead of dolphin kicks while doing butterfly arms , the swimming teacher gets annoyed.
  3. I was right to turn off my email, app and phone notifications. Last night, my husband had an enjoyable drink with my boss because I was finishing something in the office and hadn’t seen his messages. The world didn’t end, and I joined them a bit later.
  4. Job titles are much more interesting than they used to be.

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Using tech for good, not evil. I was running a little quiz and a guy made a joke about looking up answers on his phone.

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil. I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy?

Make your own laptop I was in one of those over-priced Belgian cafes, filled with equal quantities of rustic wooden furniture and jars of chocolate spread.

The Dark Side of digital time wasting

Lost : one incomplete Death Star.

I have lost my Tiny Death Star. I’ve been working hard on adding levels for Emperor Palpatine since December, and tonight my 75% complete moon-sized battle station disappeared off my phone.

My first thought: “All my hard work is lost!”

My second thought: “Did I just call playing a mobile game ‘hard work’? ”

My third thought: “How am I going to fill my in-between-time?”

In-between-time

I rarely do just one thing at a time, and Tiny Death Star made it worse. I was playing my game in typical situations – waiting for a friend, train or download. I never knew how much of this ‘in-between-time’ I had! I discovered a magic side street of time that I could skip down to play with Darth Vader.

Last week, on the train to work I was doing all of the following at once:

  • Playing Tiny Death Star on my phone.
  • Watching downloaded TV on husband’s phone. (We have one earbud each, and it’s so romantic.)
  • Reading the newspaper of the passenger next to me.
  • Sending text messages.

Ridiculous. This blog is about finding a balance between digital and ‘real’, however my reality is getting digitised faster than I can process.

I didn’t choose to lose my Death Star, but I’m quite relieved. I’m turning away from the Dark Side of digital time wasting, and re-joining the Rebel Alliance of reality.

Here endeth the Star Wars references. 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

How Star Wars took over my life. I used to like Star Wars quite a lot. As a young-ish urban childless New Media professional, basic Star Wars knowledge was mandatory.  We all spoke fondly of the original films, and bitched about the betrayal of the prequels.

I give up. I keep giving up. I have THIS MUCH to do each day. (Imagine me holding an over-sized hand-knitted cushion.) I have THIS MUCH time each day. (Imagine me holding a medium box of assorted supermarket chocolates.)

First World Problems

I live in the First World and I have problems. Some people call this ‘White Whine’, but as I’m not technically white, I prefer the term ‘First World Problems’.

I’ve just returned from a week in the English countryside, where we had a lot of rain, and very little Internet access.

I found small transient pockets of 3G as we whizzed through towns. As husband drove, I frantically updated and refreshed as many mobile apps as possible. Then I had to put down the phones as we swerved through green hedge-lined tunnels of car-sickness.

Getting a decent Internet connection was a complete pain in the bum. So we ate a wide and varied selection of fried fish and fried potatoes, moaned about the weather, and watched Jubilee TV.

Here is my current list of other First World Problems:

  • I don’t buy yoghurt because there are too many choices, and anyway, it’s just a pretend-healthy tub of sugar + dairy nonsense.
  • The cafés at garden centres have uncomfortable seating.
  • My mobile phone screen is always smeared with ear grease.
  • I have too many plastic shopping bags, but I don’t want to put them in the rubbish because they will enter the waterways and strangle dolphins.
  • I still don’t know which of my relatives I should add to Facebook. I think mum has stopped trying to Friend me.
  • I am a little bit embarrassed when my (Chinese) parents bring their own toothpicks to (non-Chinese) restaurants, and pick their teeth after a meal.
  • I don’t have time to read Vanity Fair properly anymore.
  • My Kindle now looks out of date and unfashionable.
  • I still don’t let my kids to wear Crocs in public. Unless we are near a large body of water.
  • I don’t know what threadcount my sheets are.
  • I read blogs written by people who are more creative, funny, rich, stylish and/or youthful than me. It makes me feel inadequate.

Multi-tasking – doing lots of things not very well

I have dinner in the oven, and I’m breathing, as I write this blog. Is that multi-tasking? I’ve got Facebook and Twitter open too (but I promise I’m not looking at them). Am I being super-duper efficient?

When I was a project manager, I organised lots of tasks, wrangled resources and constantly communicated to stakeholders. Those important people holding those stakes liked to see that I was Across Everything. All the time.

I used to think I was an ace multi-tasker, but now I’m not so sure…

 

Multi-tasking that I do well

Watch television AND sew stuff AND listen to husband debrief about work. Easy – it’s my wife-work.

Attend my daughter’s first school Christmas play AND have a vomiting flu. This is how it goes: watch adorable children in charming play; discreetly dash off to vomit in school toilets; smoothly slide back in to my seat to applaud.

Make breakfast for kids AND pack school lunch AND fill in school forms AND check homework. It feels as if I’ve achieved so much by 9.00 am!

 

Multi-tasking that I don’t do well

Driving AND talking on the phone. I have never learnt this essential modern life skill. I can’t imagine how people send text messages whilst they’re driving. Many years ago, I was equally amazed by boyfriend-who-is-now-my-husband rolling his own cigarettes in the car whilst steering with his knees.

Reading email AND checking a mobile AND talking to a colleague AND filling in a spreadsheet AND discreetly updating Facebook AND being on hold with IT helpdesk AND drinking very hot coffee. It may look impressive, but I’m really doing all of these tasks quite averagely.

Eating on the sofa AND watching yet another bloody cooking show on TV. No matter what I’ve made myself to eat, my tastebuds get all disappointed if I’m watching a TV chef make truffled starfish and chestnut kebabs.

It’s not real until it’s an iPhone app

No, I don’t have an iPhone. My mother has one*, but I don’t. They are very pretty, but I don’t quite see the point. Not yet. Because my mobile is only OK-but-not-great for web browsing, I don’t do it much. Key times for web browsing so far have been:

  • waiting for a train
  • waiting for my husband who is in the hardware store, whilst I sit in the car with sleeping kids
  • waiting for the bank teller to methodically stamp his/her bits of paper and open/shut drawers.

I am very attracted to the iPhone’s clean, modern look. If I buy one, I am sure I will use it a lot, and then wonder how I coped without it. Until then, I am happy to not know what I am missing.

*My mother only uses her iPhone to make and receive calls, so I wouldn’t say that she is fully exploring the rich and varied world of Internet goodness with it. However, she does look very contemporary.

My iPhone observations

Many of the cool iPhone features are cool because they look like the real-life (non-digital) thing they are simulating.  When the early-adopters cradled their new itoys in their palms and displayed their latest purchases, they showed me calculators that looked JUST LIKE a real calculator; pinball games that looked JUST LIKE real pinball games ; maps that looked JUST LIKE real maps ….

Why are physical things just automatically cooler when they become digital? Why is one of the definitions of online coolness, how Real it looks?

I can not quite get the hang of the touch screen for typing. I felt very silly because I was typing like a unco-ordinated fish, if a fish was wanting to send a text message. Previous studies have shown that the iPhone keypad is less efficient than physical QWERTY keypads, so I’m not alone.

Brought to you by the InterWeb – clever animals in labs

At the University of Vienna, they have a department of Cognitive Biology. They have pigeons, clever dogs, and even tortoises in their fascinating labs.