Archives for posts with tag: smart people

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.

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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.