Archives for posts with tag: information overload

A recent interview in Fast Company with MIT Professor Sherry Turkle, author of the book “Alone Together” touches on some excellent points in regards to the role technology plays in our lives. Her book – with a telling title – talks about human relationships with technology in their private, social and professional lives.

Turkle’s interview inspired me to think once again about the whole philosophy of LogMeOut. There is no reason to shun technology for those that may question it’s negative influences on our lives, but rather a serious need to use it in the right places and balance its use with our non-technological selves.

Turkle says “I hate the metaphor of addiction: it implies we have to get it away, give it away, wean off. This is great stuff. It’s not heroin. It’s just something we need to learn to use when most appropriate, powerful, and in our best interest.”

Darn straight Ms. Turkle! It ain’t heroin that is for sure, though they don’t call it a “crackberry” for no reason. I think Turkle has it exactly right: where we falter is in failing to distinguish between good use and bad use of technology.

She says if you need to make a deal somewhere halfway across the globe like Abu Dhabi, there’s no reason that technology should not be used. But Turkle is against what she calls “a kind of technological promiscuity, where that technology, so perfect in [one] circumstance, is the technology you think is perfect for people to bring into a board meeting, when they need to be working on a problem together. In that case it’s not the technology of choice. They’re not physically present with the people they need to bond with and deeply connect with, and need to make very consequential decisions with.”

I sometimes find myself guilty of this very activity. Being so used to e-mailing across the globe, I often choose to e-mail people 40 or even 15 minutes away from me in an instance where the issue at hand would be more quickly resolved by speaking by telephone or meeting in person. E-mail trumps all, eh? Why is it? Because it’s easy? Fast? Free? The effort of face to face engagement is too tiring?

Turkle goes on to say she thinks “there are ways in which we’re constantly communicating and yet not making enough good connections, in a way that’s to our detriment, to the detriment of our families and to our business organizations.” Amen.

People can argue that Facebook and Twitter and all these things bring us closer together, but maybe all it does is connect us together. Being connected and being close are not the same thing.

Ah, the teeny tiny plastic pie pieces, the impossible entertainment trivia questions… can’t top playing a round of the classic board game, Trivial Pursuit. Thank you Canada for this fantastic timeless export.

By now of course they’ve got digital versions of this old-school trivia challenge. The game has its own iPhone ap and there is even a Wii version – how exactly Trivial Pursuit becomes some kind of remotely controlled video game, who knows.

Apparently the Wii game is (not surprisingly) a bust; “The lack of online multiplayer and the overabundance of geographic questions means there is little reason to play this version over any of the cardboard originals…” (Gamespot review). Amen. Or in other words, Trivial Pursuit for one person pretty much deceives the point of it all, no? Proving to everyone how smart you are.

Wii Trivial Pursuit game. No thanks.

So think about pulling out that dusty navy blue and gold box from the bottom of the cupboard. It won’t hurt either that you’ve probably got about 10 more years of knowledge stacked up since the last time you played.

And now for some quick Trivial Pursuit questions to entice you even more… and think 1984 on this… the questions are fantastically dated in the older editions.

Q1. In what city was Bobby Kennedy assassinated?
Q2. What’s the capital of West-Germany? (Love this one!)
Q3. What is the biggest satellite orbiting the earth?
Q4. Where is Yogi Bear from?

Bringing Trivial Pursuit back into my life in recent months has not only improved my knowledge of what were once current facts in 1984, but brought a little geekiness and fun into Saturday’s at the in-laws where cross-generational teams has made it a successful after lunch tradition.

So dig up the ol’ Trivial Pursuit from out of the woodwork (and some people over 30) or just get a new one and bring the tradition alive again!

For those stuck with the answers to the above questions just at the tip of their tongues:
A1. Los Angeles
A2. Bonn
A3. The Moon
A4. Jellystone National Park

Logging off now.

Even the doctors agree. Turning off electronics might make you have a better day. Or so they say over at WebMD in the short advice article 10 Ways to Improve your Day in Just 5 Minutes.

#9 on the list states >>  Turn off your electronics. Just because we live in a wired world doesn’t mean you need to stay connected every minute of every single day. Staring at computer screens and electronics all day long can zap your energy and encourage inactivity. So log off your email, phones, and Internet (yes, social networking web sites count, too). This is especially important to allow you to unwind and relax before bed.

Couldn’t agree more. Interesting the part about logging off before going to bed. Not a bad tip to promise yourself at least a quiet hour just before hitting the hay. Made me realize I naturally adhere to an “after 8” rule where the computer is almost always off by 8 p.m. or earlier. That’s some sacred time there for reading, watching a movie, the late news, a glass of wine, a walk with the dog or just playing a game before hitting the hay.

The rest of the list was pretty good too, besides the making the bed bit. I’m not convinced fixing up the pillows will really improve my day all that much. But who would think to sniff a lemon when the going gets tough. The wise ol’ Japanese found that they have anti-inflammatory properties and may fight stress. Check out this post for a few thoughts about that.

Logging out now.

Ah, the miraculous printed family photograph, a lost art in the digital age. Or maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration and maybe we’re not quite near the point of extinction, but when was the last time you printed photos and really put the time into building a photo album? A scrap book? Documented your kid’s year at school?

With friends and family visiting, something about crowding around the computer to view a photo album lacks its charm (and comfort). And sure, slide shows on the television screen are nice, but something about printed photos – though it may be old school – creates actual keepsakes you can hold… physical evidence of travels, life cycle events, etc. I guess at some point we’ll be inheriting a disc on key of a person’s life rather than a stack of photo albums.

So instead of spending endless hours in front of the computer building the best photo slide show the world has ever seen or simply clicking through a Flickr account to show your friends, try heading back to the basics. Grab a friend, a kid, or maybe a sibling and take those thousands of digital photos and not only print the best of the best among them, but incorporate the pictures into scrapbooks, special photo albums, make a photo collage, etc. I’ll never forget the framed poster-sized photo collage I got for my 13th birthday packed with hundreds of cut out photos.

Better yet, think ahead and save ticket stubs, post cards, brochures and keepsakes from your travels or family events that can then be pasted into a scrap book along with your photos.

An album, a little creativity, a pair of scissors and a rainy Sunday is all you need.

Plenty of resources available here to get you started:
scrapjazz.com
scrapbook.com
the-scrapbook-store.com

Logging off now.

I certainly wouldn’t be the first to talk about cell phone etiquette issues, but there is a point where people cruise right past bad etiquette to complete ridiculousness and I can’t help but take notice. It’s probably defined right around that moment when you’re in the public bathroom listening to the person in the stall next to you talk to her best friend about last night’s debaucheries.

It’s one thing to utilize the necessary toilet time in the privacy of your own home in order to check email, browse the Web or play a round of electronic Yahtzee! – in fact not a bad idea at all – but a public restroom? Seriously?

If there is ever a right time to log out, it has got to be while relieving oneself  in public. And who really wants to be identified with the smell next door anyway?

I do understand the value of these little gadgets that keep us wired all the time and logged into the latest news, posts, emails, and whatever else determines us to be as up-to-date as possible, but there has got to be an instant where some people stop themselves from saying “Gee, I have to go to the bathroom, maybe NOW I’ll call up my mother while in the public restroom and talk about her cancer.”

The point: take a moment to rethink when, where and how that gadget of a cellphone demands time in your life and the time of strangers around you.

Do I need to even mention the risk of OOPS! that toilet just had your phone for lunch?!?

The people at cellphones.org seem to have nailed down the basics with their Cell Phone Etiquette chart.

Logging out now.

In a recent issue of the International Herald Tribune Magazine, a selection of some very smart people were recruited to have their say about “Too Much Information?”

A few spoke directly to what this blog is all about – embrace technology with some caution, use it with your brains and don’t overdo it. Good to know we’re in admirable company when we decide to question the overuse of computers and gadgets in our lives.

At the same time, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy called technology his “ally” and the founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson called it “liberating.”  The editor of Le Monde, Sylvie Kauffmann described it as more of a menace.

The English-Indian-American novelist, Pico Iyer asked why is it that all our tools of connection leave us feeling so frazzled, disconnected and alone?

The image comes to mind of millions of lonely people spending more time hooked up with a computer and cell phone than anything else.

Iyer writes further: “It’s only by stepping away from our machines, after all, that we can begin to see how best to make use of them. Technology has given use the world; it’s up to us to now see what we can and will bring to technology.”

By stepping away and detaching from our pods of technology we are just human again and free to think and wonder on our own.

So the smart people had their say and though not uniform in their feelings of course, the message to me was clear… thinking about technology and our role with it is an exercise that keeps us the independent thinking reasoning human beings that we are. Questioning how we use it and when we use it is far better than mindless texting, surfing and typing without ever a second thought.

In other words… step back to think about you and your relationship with your gadgets every once in awhile and of course, take the time to log off.

Logging off now.

The most boring Saturday in a long while almost brought me to break a pact with myself to no longer log on to the internet one day of the week.

I chose Saturday this week and as the day progressed, the clock slowly ticked away the seconds of nothing to do. Organizing my desk lasted a whole 10 minutes. Sweeping the floor, another 10. Walking the dog. Watching a Seinfeld rerun. Making the bed. Tick. Tick. Tick.

The combination of a rumbling tummy and a craving for something sweet turned out to be the trick to undo my boredom. I shall bake!

A lasagna, a few trays of cookies and a fruit crisp later… time was flying and the computer still off. I’m no Betty Crocker, but a few rounds of whipping up goodies in the kitchen warmed up the house, my mood and certainly made my husband happy when he came home. The fruit crisp turning out to be a cinch to make and very tasty.

So take the time to log off and bake something for yourself this week, or for your neighbors, family, roommates…

Try my recipe below if you can’t think of anything better:

FRUIT CRISP*

Filling:
3 peeled, cored and cubed pears
3 peeled, cored and cubed apples (fuji or gala type apples)
½ c. dried cherries
1 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. honey
1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice

Crisp:
1/3 c. brown sugar (can be a bit more, can be a bit less depending on your sweet tolerance)
½ c. flour
¾ c. quick cooking oats
¼ c. finely chopped walnuts
¾ c. butter
Pinch of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190C). Mix the filling together and lay out in an 8 in. (20×4 cm.) baking pan. Mix the crisp ingredients together and loosely lay on top of the fruit (doesn’t need to cover it completely). Bake for 45 minutes or until top part is crispy!

*make with whatever fruits are in season and for the less health conscious, plop some whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top.

Logging out now…

 

For years now I’ve opted out of the so-called Soduko craze (or is it no longer a craze and so very five years ago?).

People on the train or plane are always sketching out numbers and filling in those neat little squares to make what? I never really knew. Maybe it’s my fear of math.

In an effort to take on more internet-free activities I started working on the newspaper’s daily Soduko puzzles… meaning just the beginning of the week for those beginner folks that still struggle on the “easy” level.

I found a decent web site among many out there where you can download and print them out by level to get more practice: www.sudoku-puzzles.net. Plenty of people out there post daily puzzles: www.dailysudoku.com and tips too: www.sudokuessentials.com

Seems a legitimate internet-free hobby for life with many, many variations (calculated at 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960 possible grids for a 9×9 square) and certainly plenty of levels that I and many of us mere mortals will never get too.

There is something extremely satisfying about coming around that final stretch and realizing you’ve worked it out – all the numbers are in their place. There IS order in the world.

So no need to worry, there will always be Sudoku puzzles and weekends waiting for you to sit down and do them.

Get your fine selves offline and soduko’ing!

Logging out now.

I promise this isn’t a plug for the new and unusual owner of the New Jersey Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov. The Russian billionaire businessman caught my attention in a rerun of 60 Minutes highlighting the high life of this playboy and his new NBA role stateside.

What was remarkable to me was what he said about computers. “I don’t use a computer. We have too much information and it’s really impossible to filter it.” His desk was a mess of papers with no piece of machinery in site. My kind of billionaire.

The New York Post reported he doesn’t have a cell phone and writes his own letters. Granted he probably pays people to use computers, dial phone numbers and brush his teeth for him… it still left an impression on me.

If a Russian billionaire in the 21st Century can be so “retro” and logged off (all the time), well then so can I (once in awhile). This is probably just about the only thing we have in common, but I’ll at least be taking his lead on this.

I promise when I become a billionaire, I will do the same.

Logging out now.

So the main idea with starting this blog was for me to encourage others and myself to get offline more often. And in doing so, take up more activities that are internet-free.

So…My first activity: Write a letter. With a pen. And a piece of paper. I went digging for some stationary and a nice pen, wiped the dust off both and sat down to scrawl something out.

Having decided that my sister would be the beneficiary of such an act I quickly realized that writing a letter would mean skipping over anything immediate, because she’ll know about it anyway by the time she gets the letter. The result: a relatively emotional account of my current feelings and life situation. A blurb to her on Facebook just wouldn’t have inspired me to write in such a way. Nor would it have exercised some majorly underused muscles in my right hand.

I have to admit that there is something more intimate and of course literally, more slow about letter writing. The time it takes to write the words down gives me more brain time to formulate what to write next. And that I am writing it in my own handwriting makes it more personal to the individual on the receiving end, not to mention there is something physically important here too… I am taking something in my hand and mailing it so it will rest in another person’s hands and somehow we are sharing something together in that way as well.

Maybe my sister and I will make a habit of this… 21st century pen pals. Now to find a stamp.

Logging out now…