According to doctors, you can blame tech for children’s inability to hold pencils. Apparently all that screen time is doing nothing to strengthen their thumb, index, and middle fingers which work together to form one’s basic writing technique.
Having grown up with perpetual swiping and speaking in images and emoji, the next generation is obviously going to encounter difficulty with old ways of doing analog things. Do they even teach cursive writing in school anymore?
We speak in images. But at least early cavemen knew how to draw with their version of a stylus.
It used to be that we kept our devices separate, our MP3 player from our phone along with our books, cameras, and notepads.
Today, the phone has officially swallowed these things into one. And the quality is just as good if not better than the separate products by themselves.
For example, the camera on the iPhone 5 is sharper than any handheld camera I’ve ever had. I rarely miss a chance to catch a good idea or observation because of the phone’s quick accessible notepad in my pocket. And my book and music collection is more organized and searchable than it ever was in CD format.
There’s only one major issue in converging all of these amazing features into one device: Distraction.
Convergence saves us time, money, and space but it owns our attention. We can hardly read a book on the iPhone without itching to check our social networks, texts, and email. Sometimes we even do these things simultaneously while on a call.
The phone stimulates dopamine which in turn makes us addicted to checking. There’s always a fresh stream of content and new likes to see on our own shares.
For the past few years, the Kindle has been my only sanctuary from all this digital madness. The interface is completely dedicated to reading, although you can still share clippings to your social networks. I never do though for the simple fact my Kindle requires Wifi and because it just takes too long; certainly more than standard three clicks.
A lack of functionality in digital devices creates more focus. We don’t need one potent smartphone device, we need a few unconnected devices so we can consume or work uninterrupted.
A father wrestles with technology in the age of distraction:
Midway through my 20s I underwent a reformation. I began reading, then writing, literary fiction. It quickly became apparent that the quality of my work rose in direct proportion to my ability filter out distractions. I’ve spent the past two decades struggling to resist the endless pixelated enticements intended to capture and monetize every spare second of human attention.
When we whip out our smartphones in line at the bank, 9 times out of 10 it’s because we’re jonesing for a microhit of stimulation, or that feeling of power that comes with holding a tiny universe in our fist.
But the only reliable antidote to such burdens, based on my own experience, is not immersion in brighter and mightier screens but the capacity to slow our minds and pay sustained attention to the world around us.
Apps like Instagram help see the world around us. Twitter helps us learn from people of interest. The Internet is a force of knowledge and creativity but also a sharp distraction in doing what matters. Attention is scarce.
Turning the pages of a paper book is like leaving one footprint after another on the trail—there’s a rhythm to it and a visible record of how far one has traveled.
I actually read faster and comprehend more on screen. I also feel like I have more control with a digital device, even if I’m one click away from Twitter.
Replicating the physical reading experience on the digital screen shouldn’t be the goal. Learning more is. You’re one click away from Wikipedia upon reading on a Smartphone or tablet. That’s more context that helps understand the bigger picture, how it all connects.
Digital reading is just a different style of consumption that will one day become the mainstream way to learn. It’s all about pictures anyway.
“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms. Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.
PCs are going to be like trucks. They are still going to be around…they are going to be one out of x people…
When I am going to write that 35-page analyst report, I am going to want my Bluetooth keyboard. That’s 1 percent of the time. The software will get more powerful. I think your vision would have to be pretty short to think these can’t grow into machines that can do more things, like editing video, graphic arts, productivity. You can imagine all of these content creation possibilities on these kind of things. Time takes care of lots of these things.”
This year, about five times as many smartphones will be shipped versus PCs, and tablets will surpass PCs for the first time. According to Jobs, the right way to look at this isn’t that mobile devices are creating a new market. It’s that mobile devices are relegating PCs to special-purpose, mostly industrial devices.
People keep clinging on to the fact that some things like Excel or Word are not transferrable to the tablet. That consolidation will come, the same way everything else is convering (camera, MP3 player, etc.).
If Coke is synonymous with soda, the iPad is synonymous with tablet. It doesn’t matter how many different types of sodas or tablet are released, Coke and Apple still own those platforms in branding and take a majority of the profit.
In buying a tablet, you also want the best content. Neither Google nor Microsoft can match the apps in the iTunes Store. That’s why Steve Jobs was so adamant about making it easy for app developers to distribute, even if iTunes only broken even.
Do you want to spend a little extra and buy the Ferrari of tablets or do you want an Acura which gets you to the same places but doesn’t have the speed, sexiness, and gadgets? Think about this analogy if you’re buying a tablet this Christmas.