My Latest Dilemma: Technology Extinction

Last week, Business Insider reported that Barnes & Noble laid off a lot of people on its Nook hardware engineering team. If you’re not familiar, Nook is Barnes & Noble’s e-reader and intended to compete with Amazon’s Kindle. However, things didn’t turn out so well for Nook and in Q3 of 2013 it’s earnings were down 32% and made it the worst performing part of Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble has been figuring out what to do and one route would be to change their focus from the hardware to just doing its own applications and digital distribution. Too bad for all those people who got Nook’s as gifts over the last few years.

This brings up an interesting problem though that eventually we all will face. How do we decide what devices to purchase? How do we know that the device or hardware we purchase today will still be around in three years? I think the reality is that we don’t. The world of technology hardware changes so fast that there’s no way to ensure that some amazing new device will see a long lifespan.Continue reading

Why Discipline Must Trump A Digital Detox

Over the past few months, there’s been a lot of talk about the idea of taking a digital detox. Earlier this year, the word digital detox was even added to the Oxford dictionary. The Oxford definition is:

digital detox (n): a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world: break free of your devices and go on a digital detox.

The notion of a digital detox is being embraced by the travel industry with many hotels offering digital detox packages where they will confiscate your tech devices upon checkin to the hotel to ensure you fully disconnect from your digital life. This summer, I learned that there are retreat centers and camps for adults that offer digital detox programs. In August, I tweeted my reaction to these Continue reading

Designing for people who did NOT grow up with the Internet

* I originally wrote this post for Medium.

I recently spent a few days visiting family in Florida. Inevitably, a few days into the trip, I had a list of tech-related things that people needed help with. In fact, I became the family appointed Apple Genius…but I’m sure none of you can relate to that (wink, wink)!

As a user experience designer, you haven’t lived until you’ve trouble-shooted tech problems for your family or tried to teach them easier ways to do things.Continue reading

I Want To Put An End To Texting And Driving

texting and driving

Living in New York City, I haven’t owned a car in nearly six years and I only drive once or twice a year. When I visit friends in other places, I’m actually a bit anxious as a passenger in their vehicles. But now, that anxiety has heightened significantly as I realize the massive problem of talking on the phone and texting while driving. As someone who doesn’t have a car engrained in their daily routine, Continue reading

TED Tuesday: Graham Hill “Less Stuff, More Happiness”

I have to admit, lately I’ve found myself on a de-cluttering kick. I’ve been trying to figure out what triggered this new hobby – and my subsequent new weekend ritual of taking bags of stuff to HousingWorks in Tribeca.

When I think about it, it really boils down to wanting a simpler life. With less stuff, comes more time, more freedom, and more space. It’s about having more opportunity to surround yourself with the things and people that matter, creating less physical and mental distractions, and exercising restraint against the ever present addiction we have to consumption as a society. I think that our homes and how we live are a projection of how we approach the rest of our lives. If we don’t recycle and are wasteful at home, it’s likely that we are wasteful with other resources, such as at the office or in relationships. Continue reading

How Personal Metrics Can Change Our Lives

America is trapped in a consumption driven lifestyle, and the consequences of our actions are being revealed more now than ever before. Our economy has reached a state of turmoil not seen since the Great Depression. In March 2009, the collective credit card debt of Americans was just over $940 billion. Our nation’s obesity levels have reached ultimate highs with two thirds of adults and one third of children in America are obese. And, we are in the middle of a massive climate crisis. The United States per capital carbon dioxide emissions in 2005 were more than four times greater than China’s and almost fourteen times India’s.

Have we become blind to the consequences of our actions?

There is an eminent need to quantify our behavior and bring more transparency and understanding to the effects that our actions have.Continue reading

Unproductive Technology

A great article in the New York Times called Lost in E-Mail, Tech Firms Face Self-Made Beast poses an interesting question – are the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused?

RescueTime, an computer habits research company, conducted a study and found that a typical information worker who sits at a computer all day turns to his e-mail program more than 50 times and uses instant messaging 77 times. The study also found that on average the worker also stops at 40 Web sites over the course of the day.

Perhaps the area of greater concern is the financial impact of distractive technology in the workplace. According to Basex, a management science research group, in the United States more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.

According to John Tang, a researcher at IBM, the challenge today lies to finding ways to prevent software tools from distractions in the workplace.




The Culture Of Identity

Throughout history, we have witnessed great change – the fall of capitalism, the Industrial Revolution, and now the technology revolution. Central to all these periods of change we find commonalities that remain true. In all periods of change – the individual never changes. Though the individual may change the way he does things or goes about his daily life, he as a person never changes, his emotions, spirit, and need for discovery of self and identification with others remains strong.

In his book The Rise of the Network Society, Manuel Castells focuses on the interface between technology and society, which he refers to as the relationship between the net and self. This relationship stems from the increased desire for identity and self discovery which is often the only source of meaning in a society that is going through rapid and radical change – such as the change brought forth in the technological revolution.

Marshall McLuhan presented similar ideas Continue reading

The Era Of Experience

It seems that society is creating an environment that is disengaging our spritis because its messages lack enough meaningful substance. However, at the core of each person, there is a spirit that is waiting to be engaged – waiting to be spoken to – waiting to be loved.

Engaging with the spirit requires that we dare to communicate in ways that to some would seem controversial because the authenticity, vulnerability, trust, and love that is required to engage human spirits is not common today.

If we want to create a relationship with customers, it must start with engaging people in emotional experiences.

Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian born communications theorist explored the value of experience and said that “Everybody experiences far more than he understands. Yet it is experience, rather than understanding, that influences behavior.”

Every interaction with our brand – our product – our business, provides us with a touchpoint – an opportunity for us to create an imprint on the spirit of our customer.

The feelings that an image can arouse, the memories that a sound resurrects, the comfort and security of a familiar touch, the desire that a smell creates – these experiences span all languages, cultures, and races – are are the strongest form of communication we can use to engage customers in their relationship with our brands.

By basing our designs on experience, we are able to resonate with the human spirit.

I believe the world will be changed one person at a time as we create lasting emotional connections that will shift paradigms and bring forth incredible and unprecedented awareness, growth, and action.