Tag Archives: technology

New year guilt-free information cleanse

It’s Chinese New Year and it’s time to celebrate the last year, relax with family, and look ahead to the next year.

On reflection, it turns out that my husband is a very wise man who has solid advice for me, despite being part of the white male liberal urban middle-class capitalist patriarchy. (Just joking. Mostly. Luv u!!)

On politics: “We’ll be OK.”

The shuddering , sliding and shifting of world politics has been consistently  concerning for me. But husband has taken a practical view that we will survive it, and that despair is pointless.

In the more eloquent words of author and activist Rebecca Solnit: “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and in that spaciousness of uncertainty there is room to act.” Hope in the dark

What I’m doing about it

I’m keeping the hope, but still reading the news.

We are reaching information fatigue. Last week, we couldn’t face any more news, opinions or analysis. I want a little sip of information, just to keep my brain hydrated, but the newspapers, TV and websites are coming at me with a water cannon of THINGS I NEED TO KNOW.

The ‘clean eating’ fad is ridiculous and dangerous, so I’m on an ‘information cleanse’ – applying some conscious filters to my news and information. I’m avoiding meat-based shouting opinions, fake news pumped full of refined sugar and dairy-laden conspiracy stories.

red heart nope pin

Do you see hope or nope?

 

On guilt: “Stop wasting your time feeling guilty.”

Guilt. Gilt. Only one letter difference and only one is shiny.

Husband is very quick to smack down guilt. He has a more practical sense of how we need to motivate ourselves.

What I’m doing about it

Less guilty and more gilt-y.

After the inauguration (in-anger-ation?) and women’s march, I was on Twitter, scrolling and shaking my head, contributing to the aforementioned ‘information fatigue’.

Kristina Halvorsen is one of my content strategy heroes, and I follow her on Twitter.

Kristina: My 12yo son is racked with white man’s guilt. Wants to help the world but doesn’t want to be seen as a “white savior”. Parenting is hard.

Me: I don’t want my kids to be driven by guilt alone. Maybe grateful to be in a position to make a difference?  Responsible & aware & kind?

Kristina: ME TOO

Me: I’ve got a calming facemask on & starting to read Hope in the dark. Rebecca Solnit. Want to pass hope on to kids. And skincare.

Special thanks to Sam for the recommended reading.

 

Here’s one I wrote earlier

To all the ladies in the house   Mother’s Day had serious expectations heaped upon it, such as handmade cards and someone else replacing the toilet paper for once. International Women’s Day? Just the same old fluff – gender parity, equal opportunities, more women in leadership, less violence blah blah.

Kids – sorry the grown-ups broke your EU   Dear kids, Yesterday some grown-ups broke your European Union. Sorry about that. They didn’t really mean to. I hope that you can fix it when you’re older. Remember to vote. Love, mum

 

 

Hype cycle of life

I’ve had a few days recently when I’ve been without my phone. This made me realise how I use social media to fill all the little gaps in the day when I’d rather scroll than think or look or talk. (Introverts unite!)

Over the years, I have been subjected to many people explaining the Gartner Hype Cycle  to me. It’s *a thing* if you work in digital/technology. They use it to show how we are all sucked in to new tech, get disappointed, then shrug our shoulders and use it more sensibly. It is represented by a bendy chart like this:

gartner-hype-cycle

The Gartner Hype Cycle

I tried to review my own use of social media using the Hype Cycle’s five phases of a technology’s life cycle…

Technology Trigger: “A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity.”

Me: Started it/went back on it because I’m feeling strong. Technology will not control me. I can stop when I want to. It’s fun. Wheeee!!

Peak of Inflated Expectations: “Early publicity produces a number of success stories — often accompanied by scores of failures.”

Me: Oh it’s so shiny. A lovely portal in to pictures of excellent hair, architectural fruit platters, artistic shoelaces on amusing tablecloths, outlandishly refined pencil storage vessels.

Trough of Disillusionment: “Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver.”

Me: What have I learned from the last 74 posts I scrolled through? Clean eating is both a joke and a serious food phobia. Everyone I know, or do not know, or should know, has more than me. More culturally diverse holidays, more whimsical children, more successful and publicly affectionate partners, more innovative recipes using avocado, birch water and food-grade iron filings.

Slope of Enlightenment: “More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood.”

Me: Have accepted that my abdominal muscles will only be *that* defined if I use a bold permanent pen and glitter glue. Realise that taking a little peek in to the lives of friends and family is better than closing the door. A family reunion is three generations + Mark Zuckerberg in a blue room.

Plateau of Productivity: “Mainstream adoption starts to take off. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.”

When I can’t be bothered making small talk amongst unknown school parents, I can pretend that Twitter is my work email.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

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.

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. Him: But you’re a digital person aren’t you? It’s technology! Me: I believe in technology for good, and not evil.

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.

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.

Him: But you’re a digital person aren’t you? It’s technology!

Me: I believe in technology for good, and not evil.

I can barely remember what life was like before search engines. Not because I am young, but because Googling has become so automatic.

There is barely a nanosecond between thinking “I wonder …” and someone tapping on search engine results. We have no time for pondering and musing. And everyone is a proxy expert.

Here are some things I Googled this week. Was this using technology for good?

  • Balayage. Freehand hair colouring technique. I’ve recently fired up my old Instagram account again , and there are entire accounts filled with bespoke heads of highlights.
  • Getting chicken fat out of suede. It happens.
  • Seokmin Ko. A Korean artist who holds up giant mirrors in beautiful places. See his wonderful art.
  • Harpy. Mythical bird women. See photo below that I took at The National Maritime Museum. Who knew that they were so well-proportioned?
  • Female astronauts. Because my daughter wants to be one.

   

 

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.

Next to me was a smartly dressed family. On a rustic wooden breakfast table, they were occupied thusly:

  • Dad – with iPad resting on muesli bowl.
  • Mum – on iPhone, with salad bowl of coffee.
  • Toddler in high chair – with iPod resting on ridiculous gourmet salt shaker.

They were probably content and well-fed. To me, they looked like 3 people who were killing time until newer, slightly thinner versions of the other family members are available at the Apple store.

Digital death

I spend a lot of energy ‘saving’ my kids from dying an early digital death. As the title of my blog suggests, I’m trying really hard to make sure their lives are not ruled by technology.

I am failing.

My children used to make magnificent craft. Behold a scale model of the Great Wall of China.

Great wall of china in clay

The great pile of …

Now, to compensate for the fact that I am depriving them of electronic wizardry, this is what they create:

the homemade laptop

Can you tell it’s the Windows startup screen logo?

And most impressively, there’s a Logitech mouse to go with the paper laptop.

the homemade mouse

Logitech’s latest prototype mouse.

This came back from a school holiday club:

the homemade mobile

The screen is a bit small, but it’s got an incredible battery life.

And our little animal friends frolic in a forest of cables and keyboards.

little creatures in cables

The perfect place to hang out.

I will continue to paddle weakly against the tsunami of digital stuff. I have my inflatable armbands, and kid-proof passwords on all my devices.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

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? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Here are some things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Modern parenting just seems a little more complicated these days …

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? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Too much tech

I frown upon parents who load their kids up with digital toys and knick-knackery, then plug their ‘new improved, with USB and FireWire from birth’ offspring in to the closest device. They don’t need it!

Our childcare centre has PCs for the kids to play with. Our kids have perfect remote control-sized fingers and an uncanny ability to navigate i-anythings. I doubt that many middle-class nice kids will be left picking their scabby knees by the side of the information super highway.

Their digital lives

I also enter in to polite inter-parent debates about why social networking is not irrelevant, and every website is not selling porn. There is goodness out there, and fun, and information, and ideas.

My main point I make to these tech-terrified parents is that their children are already digital. Everywhere their non-hairy non-hardened little feet take them, these kids are surrounded by buttons and screens and keyboards.

Sensible advice from parents

I believe that mums and dads need to teach their kids how to make the right choices, about friends, risks, technology… That’s our job.

  • Look before you cross the road. Cars are harder and bigger than you.
  • Don’t give strangers (real people or online people) your home address, phone number, email address or parents’ credit card details. You might not be able to trust them.
  • Don’t tell other people they are fat/ugly/stupid. It’s mean and you will make them sad.
  • Just because it’s on a website doesn’t mean that it’s true. Some people put untrue things on websites.
  • Meeting friends in person is quite fun. Sometimes more fun than sending them text messages or reading their Facebook status updates.
  • Do not smoke cigarettes because you are making huge tobacco companies rich. It makes your breath smell bad.

See – it’s all just part of the sensible advice you dish out as a parent. And if they ignore you, they’ll get hit by a car driven by someone they used to call ‘peanut head’, and you’ll find a mysterious charge on your credit card for 100 cartons of Indonesian cigarettes.

Brought to you by the Interweb – baby’s first laptop

I’m not sure about baby’s first laptop. The mouse is a mouse, so that’s cute. But overall, I think it’s sort of pointless. My babies used to play with empty tissue boxes filled with rattles.