We receive so many incredible benefits from tech, but weve also been feeling like weve been losing ourselves, and our humanity? But were naming it now. Whats at stake is our Agency. Our ability to live the lives we want to live, choose the way we want to choose, and relate to others the way we want to relate to them through technology. This is a design problem, not just a personal responsibility problem. If you want your Agency, you need to tell these companies that thats what you want from them not just another shiny new phone that overloads our psychological vulnerabilities. .
Can your Best Friends be books?
Facebook and remember Microsoft make leading Virtual and Augmented reality platforms, Oculus and Hololens. You might think that its against the business models of Apple and google to facilitate peoples agency, which might include making it easier to spend time off the screen, and use apps less. Apple and google, like all companies, respond to what consumers demand. When Privacy became important to you, they responded. They developed new privacy and security features, and it sparked a whole new public conversation and debate. Its now the most popular concern about technology discussed in media. When Organic food became important to you, they responded too. Walmart added it to their stores. We need to do the same thing with this issue. Until now, with this experience of distraction, social media, and this vague sense that we dont feel good when we use our phones for too long, lnat theres been nothing to rally behind.
Holistic Ergonomics recognizes our holistic mental and emotional limits vulnerabilities, fatigue and ways our minds form habits and aligns them with the holistic goals we have for our lives (not just the single tasks). Holistic Ergonomics is built to paper give us back agency in an increasingly persuasive attention economy. Joe edelman and I have taught design workshops on this, calling it EmpoweringDesign. Org, or designing to empower peoples agency. It includes an interpersonal ergonomics, to align our social psychological instincts with how and when we want to make ourselves available to others (like in my ted talk so that we can reclaim agency over how we want to relate to others. Just like an ergonomic coffee mug is safe to live by, even under repetition, over and over again, without causing harm to ourselves or others, in a time well Spent world our phones would be designed with Holistic Ergonomics, so that even under repetition, over and over again, our. They support our Agency. How to Change the game right now, two companies are responsible for the primary screens that a billion people live. Apple and google make the two dominant smartphone platforms.
The attention economy tears our minds apart. . With its onslaught of never-ending choices, never-ending supply of relationships and obligations, the attention economy bulldozes the natural shape of our physical thesis and psychological limits and turns impulses into bad habits. Just like the food industry manipulates our innate biases for note salt, sugar and fat with perfectly engineered combinations, the tech industry bulldozes our innate biases for Social Reciprocity (were built to get back to others Social Approval (were built to care what others think of us Social Comparison. Millions of years of evolution did a great job giving us genes to care about how others perceive. But Facebook bulldozes those biases, by forcing us to deal with how thousands of people perceive. This isnt to say that phones today arent designed ergonomically, they are just ergonomic to a narrow scope of goals : for a single user (holding the phone) for single tasks (opening an app) for individual choices And a n arrow scope of human physical limits : how far our. A new Kind of Ergonomics Lets call this new kind of ergonomics Holistic Ergonomics.
I like to use the metaphor of ergonomics. . When you think of ergonomics, you might think of boring things like how a cup fits into someones hand, but its way more than that. If regular design is about how we want things to work, ergonomics is concerned with failure modes and extremes : how things break under repetition, stress or other limits. And the goal of ergonomics is to create an alignment between those limits, and the goals people have for how they want to use. For example, an ergonomically designed coffee mug aligns the natural fatigue of forearm muscles during use (as a person lifts it to sip) with how frequently people want to use it, so they still can lift it successfully with repetition. What does this have to do with phones? Our minds urgently need a new ergonomics, based on the minds limited capacities, biases, fatigue curves and the ways it forms habits.
Books are our best friends essay - best Dissertations for Educated
And that begs us to ask, what are our goals? Or how do we want to spend our time? . There are as many good lives as there are people, but our technology (and the attention economy) dont really seem on our team to give us the agency to live according to them. A whole new Persuasive world, and its about to get a one lot worse. . Virtual reality and Augmented reality will offer whole new immersive realities that are even more persuasive than physical desk reality. When you could have sex with the person of your dreams, or fly through jungles in the Amazon rainforest while looking over at your best friend flying next to you, who would want to stick with reality?
By the way, this isnt your usual look, vr is coming! This is the real deal. Facebook recently spent 2 billion to buy oculus Rift, and hopes to put them in every home for this holiday season. Just like the late 1980s when suddenly everyone you knew had a nintendo. Acknowledging the Problem so we have a fundamental misalignment between what the attention economy is competing to produce (more perfect, persuasive choices that fit into any moment the design of our phones, and the aspirations people have for their lives (their definition of the good life). So whats missing from the design of our phones?
Youtube must become more persuasive if it wants to compete with Facebook. . And were not just talking about cheap amusement (aka cat videos). . These products will only get better at giving us choices that make every bone in our body say, yeah I want that! So whats wrong about this? . If the entire attention economy is working to fill us up with more perfect-feeling things to spend time on, which outcompete being with the discomfort of ourselves or our surroundings, shouldnt that be fantastic?
Clearly something is missing from this picture. But what is it? Maybe its that filling people up, even with incredible choices on screens somehow doesnt add up to a life well lived. Or that those choices werent what we wished wed been persuaded to do in the bigger sense of our lives. With design as it is today, screens threaten our fundamental agency. Maybe we are choosing, but we are choosing from persuasive menus driven by companies who have different goals than ours.
Are books our best friends?
When cheaper, faster forms of transportation appear, we switch: Uber. So it goes with phones. But it also changes us on the inside. We grow less and less patient for reality as it is, especially when its boring or uncomfortable. We come to expect more from the world, more rapidly. . And because reality cant live up to our expectations, it reinforces how often we want to turn to our screens. A self-reinforcing feedback loop. And because of the attention economy, every product will only get more persuasive over time. Facebook must become more persuasive if it wants dom to compete with and survive.table
If, at any moment, reality gets dull or boring, our phone writing offers something more pleasurable, more productive and even more educational than whatever reality gives. And this new choice fits into any moment. Our phone offers 5-second choices like checking email that feel better than waiting in line. And it offers 30-minute choices like a podcast that will teach you that thing youve been dying to learn, which feels better than a 30-minute walk in silence. Once you see your phone this way, wouldnt you turn to it more often? It always happens this way: when new things fill our needs better than the old, we switch: When cheaper, faster to prepare food appears, we switch: Packaged foods. When more accurate search engines appear, we switch: google.
things have always been. Ask a fish about water and theyll respond, whats water? Consider that the average American now watches more than.5 hours of television per day. Regardless of whether you think tv is good or bad, hundreds of millions of people spend 30 of their waking hours watching. Its hard to overstate the vast consequences of this shift for the blood flows of millions of people, for our understanding of reality, for the relational habits of families, for the strategies and outcomes of political campaigns. . Yet for those who live with them day-to-day, they are invisible. So what best describes the nature of what smart phones are doing to us? A new Perfect Choice on Lifes Menu. If I had to summarize it, its this: Our phone puts a new choice on lifes menu, in any moment, thats sweeter than reality.
Socrates worried that the technology of writing would management create forgetfulness in the learners souls, because they would not use their memories. We worried that newspapers would make people stop talking to each other on the subway. We worried that we would use television to amuse ourselves to death. Isnt humanity more prosperous, more technically sophisticated, and better connected than ever? Is it really that big of a problem that people spend so much time staring at their smartphones? Isnt it just another cultural shift, like all the others? Wont we just adapt? Invisibility of the new Normal, i dont think. Whats missing from this perspective is that all these technologies (books, television, radio, newspapers) did change everything about society, we just dont see.
How are books your best friends?
Four years ago, i sold my company to google and joined the ranks there. I spent my last three years there as Product Philosopher, looking at the profound ways the design of screens shape billions of human lives and asking what it means for them to do so ethically and responsibly. What travel I came away with is that somethings not right with how our screens are designed, and Im writing this to help you understand why you should care, and what you can do about. I shouldnt have to cite statistics about the central role screens play in our lives. Billions of us turn to smartphones every day. We wake up with them. We fall asleep with them. Youre looking at one right now. Of course, new technologies always reshape society, and its always tempting to worry about them solely for this reason.