Tag Archives: Continuous Partial Attention

Jeneral finds of the week: 2016-10-16

The start of the movement to make our devices less addictive,the terrible environmental costs still incurred when recycling smartphones, could a Donald Trump happen in Canadian politics, and Michelle Obama’s powerful response to the 2005 Trump video —on my Jeneral finds of this week: 2016-10-16

The movement to make our devices less addictive

Blackberry launched the first portable device with email in 1999, hooking the corporate and government world. Then when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, the consumer market for smartphones exploded. In Canada and the US, over two-thirds of the population have smartphones and/or tablets, and growing. It is a massive technological shift in this generation, creating an explosion of new companies to make different software and social media applications for our digital devices. Combined with a generation of users trained to expect that content and services should be free, the measure of success for many of these companies are things like size of user base, time spent interacting on the tool, and the data freely given by users in exchange for the free service.

However, in the rush to adopt all the wonderful and exciting that these devices and services offer to us, we are slow to consider the all the ill-effects of the technology. These applications are purposefully-built to be more addictive in the attempt to win the competition for our attention. In addition to the consequence of the time we spend on social media and games, there are many, many secondary consequences that we aren’t aware of yet. (I highly recommend Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle to help illuminate these consequences.) And if we aren’t aware of the consequences, we can’t devise strategies to deal with them effectively.

In many ways it feels like the wild west, where the laws and regulations and enforcement to protect citizens are setup after the initial fray of competition. Perhaps now is the start of the movement to deliberately make the usage of our devices less additive. Should there be something akin to the Hippocratic oath for software product design?

Tristian Harris may well be an evangelical leader for this movement, as profiled here in The Atlantic, “The Binge Breaker” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/the-binge-breaker/501122/?. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on his progress.

What I learned about phone recycling from Samsung’s combusting Galaxy Note 7 recall

Continuing on the theme of smartphones, I mistakenly thought that recycling old smartphones can reclaim the precious metals for reuse. That is dead false. The best case scenario for your old device that you don’t want anymore is to return it to be refurbished and resold: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/galaxy-note-7-explosion-environmental-impact-recycling

Could a Donald Trump happen in Canada?

The election south of our border has me both captivated and horrified. I can’t look away and stop reading about it, even though it just aggravates me to no end. Thankfully I’m in Canada, but I know I can’t sit here smugly in the belief that someone like Trump could not rise in power in Canada. It already happened in Toronto with Rob Ford. This article in the Globe was an interesting analysis about the factors that may have kept the similar extreme-right sentiments at bay to date in Canada: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/growth/could-trump-happen-here-canadas-left-behind-workers/article32245715/

Michelle Obama’s speech on Trump’s comments: ‘Enough is enough’

I hate that I’m continuing with another item related to that man, but this one inspires and creates fortitude, instead of indignant rage and disgust. Michelle Obama has given some powerful speeches in the last few months. This speech in New Hampshire, days after the tape of Trump uttering his lewd comments in 2005, was devastating. She made the political personal, and her reflections of her own experiences with men who objectified her body mirrored our own. She demanded better from those who would seek to lead the country, as we all should.

~Jen

Jeneral finds of the week: 2015-04-27

Here are this week’s interesting things I’ve stumbled across: 2015-04-28

  • “The Internet’s Original Sin” is not pornography, as you might originally conclude. In this article in The Atlantic, one of the early developers of the web outlines how the good intentions of the heady days early days of the internet evolved into our current state of “advertising-supported, ‘free-as-in-beer’ constellation of social networks, services and content that represents so much of present day web industry… Surveillance as the default, if not sole, internet business model.” This is what happens when you refuse to pay money for things, you pay with a loss of your privacy and control of your data. The linked lecture by Maciej Ceglowski in 2014 is also an enlightening, if longer, read. Both should have you at least pondering whether you want to whole-heartedly and blindly continue to support this business model on the web. And whether we want our children to not know a choice.
  • There is a name for this affliction we have with our smart phones and social media, and it’s been around since 1998- Continuous Partial Attention. This interview with the person who coined the phrase, Linda Stone, had some points that really made me sit up and notice, such as “Kids learn empathy in part through eye contact and gaze. If kids are learning empathy through eye contact, and our eye contact is with devices, they will miss out on empathy.” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/06/the-art-of-paying-attention/309312/
  • Following that call for mindfulness and attentiveness for the activity at hand is this:How We Spend Our Days Is How We Spend Our Lives: Annie Dillard on Presence Over Productivity
  • Then when I read this article The Full-Stack Employee, the juxtaposition of these ideas on how to be hyper-productive in today’s workforce against the previous ones of presence over productivity was amusing, for sure. But it’s still relevant for me to think about as I’ve returned to the workforce, and trying to figure out how to best stay valuable so I can demand concessions to be made on flexibility in my schedule.
  • Remember back in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union decided that Pluto was no longer classified as a planet? This video gives a good explainer why in less than 5 minutes. 

~Jen