Tag Archives: phone

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.

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.

Retardex – not as stupid as it sounds

I was very rude to someone last week. And I did it impulsively on Twitter, so it’s up there for all to see.

Actually, I was very rude to a suite of oral care products, rather than a warm body… but it still made me feel a teeny bit guilty, when they replied very politely.

Me (flippantly) on Twitter: Retardex is an awful product name. Is it aimed at stupid people with bad breath?

Retardex marketing person (nicely): we know it’s not the best name, but visit http://www.retardex.co.uk/why-name-retardex for the history. Nearly 500k customers in the UK though 🙂

The response from Retardex was fast, appropriate, and minty-fresh. (As they have a page explaining their unfortunate brand name, I can see that I am not the first person to comment.)

It’s not you. Wait a minute, yes it is …

Having recently moved countries, I am still in the boring set-up phase. I’ve been quite shouty on the phone with various phone, bank and TV companies.

And each time I have upset my assigned customer service representative. A typical exchange might be:

Me (shouty) on the phone: I don’t know why I’m calling. I called because you keep sending me text messages to call you. Why don’t you know who is sending these messages? Your message doesn’t tell my why I need to call. Can you stop these messages?

Customer service representative (annoyed and a bit snippy now): It wasn’t ME…

Me (shouty and interrupting): OK. Of course. Not YOU – it’s the system, the process, the computers, the morally bankrupt society without strong gender-appropriate role models! Just fix it.

So, weirdly, I feel a bit silly for being rude to some expensive toothpaste, but not at all guilty at making friendly Fiona or smiling Sam hate their jobs.