It's noisy and confusing. There was Dell talking about getting into the tablet market. Isn't that what the failed Dell Streak was? There was 3D TV. Mobile machinations. The PC wasn't dead. But then there were the ultrabooks. Robots. Exercise enhancers. There was more talk of the "Internet of things." You name it.
Game over Here's the deal: We've won. We can go home now. Electronics has gotten to the point -- in the consumer space -- where the only innovations are the mundane, the enhancements, the extensions. (Of course anyone who makes this type of statement is immediately proved wrong, but hang with me for a sec).
We have devices that do pretty much everything we used to do, only in new ways. A computing device today, whether a tablet, a phone or a PC can do what telephony, typewriters, pen and ink, film (motion and still), cameras, television, radio -- basically all major mediums--did a generation ago.
So… great! We win! (As the comedian Louis C.K. points out, it was just a generation ago that we had to stand in a room with a rotary-dial phone and "make sparks" to talk to someone).
And yet... And yet we still innovate. We still build. We still buy. I switched, after decades of loyalty, from PC - Blackberry land last year to Apple (MacBook and iPhone). It was a practical decision. I needed a laptop and a phone that could handle multimedia quickly and easily on the run for our Drive for Innovation. It's done that and more.
At Christmas, I got an iPad. So now I have three similar products all made by the same company. None completely replaces the other, although they come close. This use case often seems nearly insane to me, but I love the devices. They're amazing feats of ingenuity and user interface design. (They also make me way more productive than I've ever been).
Trouble in paradise But this is a problem. I have one of these devices on and with me (sometimes three at the same time) from the moment I wake up (alarm clock with music, quick weather check) to the moment I fall asleep (book reader).
They're so easy to use, so connected that the minute any thought comes into your head, you're spurred to some action, a search, a synch, a message, a photo, a voice memo. What's on NPR? How's the market performing? Importantly, they're also an extension of our intellect: answers to any question, direction, guidance is a few taps away. I work faster because I can, but I fear my increased productivity may be illusory.
The devices in one sense feed the worst part of a personality: compulsiveness. And they suppress one of the most important aspects of a healthy work or personal environment: Pause and reflection. I wrote about the importance of pausing and finding creative muses on Drive for Innovation this week as it affects creativity and innovation.
These devices interrupt a conversation you're constantly having in your head as thoughts come in and bang around like bumper cars. You meditate every so briefly on each: Is it important? Does it demand action? If so, what? Does it require more reflection? If so, what?
Before the connected world, we were better self-editors I suspect. More important concepts we vetted and raised up on our priority list. We reflected better. Or at least I think I did. We've lost discipline, perhaps.
The connected world In the end it's not the devices themselves that are the problem but the connectedness and usefulness of the devices. It's a way of living we each have to come to grips with.
As our physical and emotional world become more bound to the digital:
How do you manage it?
How do you managed your devices and the flood of amazing information at your fingertips?
Brian, I agree that our connected mobile devices do feed the addictive, compulsive and impulsive aspects of our personalities. These devices are indeed here to stay, so the solution is psychological, not technological. Self-discipline, time management, interpersonal communication skill development, etc.
Every person has a need to unplug on a regular basis, for varying periods of time, and the situational context affects that need. The key, of course, is balance. When a college student sacrifices getting needed sleep and fails an exam because he was Facebooking with his friends all night, that is clearly an imbalance. Likewise, a business executive on vacation, sitting on the beach with his wife and his smartphone, checking and replying to every work email as it comes in, has lost his sense of balance.
But balance works both ways. In many aspects of life, especially work, we need these devices and this connectivity in order to remain productive and competitive. It is likely that it is quite unacceptable, for example, for that business executive to completely unplug for 2 weeks of vacation, never answering a single email or text message, no matter how urgent, during that entire period.
Just as we all strike our own work/personal life balance, we must also strike a connected/unconnected balance in both our work lives and our personal lives. Extremes at either end of the spectrum have costs.
@drewlanza, so fantastic to see your name! (Which reminds me to have lunch with you this year!).... outstanding points. I think as humans we always struggle with evolution. I would much prefer the Drew Lanza across the table than the Drew Lanza on FB, Twitter or wherever, although, that Drew Lanza has value too. I like to think that the human connection will never be severed, but around the holidays it's unsettling to see a roomful of 20-somethings (cousins, brothers, sisters) hunched over their laptops or mobile phones connecting somewhere outside of the room. To Nic's point: there is no turning back.
We are the Borg...resistance if futile...like us on Facebook. No thanks. We have reached a point where we simply do not need or want a lot of the so called innovations. 3D TV? I can't stand every movie being in 3D why would I want everything on my TV to be that way?
There IS no turning back, and marimba ring tones have displaced the serene in all of us: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/new-york-philharmonic-interrupted-by-chimes-mahler-never-intended/?scp=1&sq=mahler&st=cse
two things stand out:
1. SNAP...IT'S GOING DOWN! there is no turning back.
2.Software may provide the filters we will need to focus on preset criteria, discern what is "critical" as "multi tasking" 24/7!
We were made to talk to each other, not thumb at each other. SO I agree that we are in the beginning of a social era and walking on all fours grunting sounds, throwing "like" switches and making remote videos our communications of choice. When technology progresses so that speech recognition with machines becomes natural in ANY language and machines will talk back with human-like voice qualities with INTELLIGENCE, life will become much simpler. Apple's Siri and Intel's Nikiski based on Windows 8 are baby steps for the upcoming "talk as a you walk" era.
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Reading Super Sad True Love Story gives a glimpse into what our world could look like in 40-ish years. Certainly made me check myself a little, making an effort to scale back the constant updating/emailing/IMing/facebooking.