Our phones are an escape from reality. We turn to them to avoid the tension of waiting.
Immediate gratification helps numb the stress of the moment. It also impedes our progress at work, relationships, and our innovation in general.
As Simon Sinek points out in the video below, the two things that take the most time to develop are our jobs and communication skills. There’s no app to help us succeed at these difficult and messy things other than our willingness and patience.
All the time spent staring at screens instead of observing our surroundings impede the serendipitous discoveries that lead to innovation. How can we think of new ideas when we’re preoccupied with a bright shiny object?
Our willpower is weak. To strengthen it, we can start by changing our habits. We can leave the phone behind when we go to dinner with friends and replace apps with a real alarm clock.
A phone is a convergence machine. It can do and be everything, yet get in the way of what’s important. There’s no way around the fact that good things take time which needs us to play the long game. We have to find enjoyment in this slow but steady process called life.
There are only two ways to read a book: own a hard copy or read books on Kindle. Reading in the Kindle app on the iPhone is not the same as reading on a standalone Kindle device. On the phone, you are a click away from checking the dopamine-hitting social media feeds, email, and text/push message disturbances.
Reading requires focus, which is why the Kindle works. The Kindle is intentionally minimalist–its magic lies within its subtraction of features rather than extra bells and whistles of a smartphone. It constrains what you do, associating the task with the device.
When Seth Godin goes to write his blog posts, he does it within Typepad. When business people want to hold important meetings, they go to the office. When athletes train, they hit the gym. People use devices or places as triggers for experiences.
The mobile phone brings everything to your fingertips, a computer that also acts as a camera, a wallet, music player and recorder. It is one of the most innovative inventions of our time because of its convergence and ‘always on’ Internet-connectedness. But with the Kindle device, you can only do one thing well: Read.
Browsing the Internet on Kindle is a frustrating experience, on purpose. On the other hand, playing music or using credit cards at the grocery are more convenient living as consolidations in the phone. They are better for multitasking with other activities than living as single standalone devices.
Kindle means to read just as Google is synonymous with search. These tools excel at doing one thing. As more technology gets integrates into our devices, some activities like reading will be best served on a designated screen.
We live in an age of constant photography. It is not just that anyone can share a photo, but anyone can also look artistic doing it too, blurring the line between an amateur and professional photographer. Smartphone accessibility and a high-quality lense reduce the barrier to entry.
While we turned the camera inward with the egotistical selfie, technology has also turned photos into new formats like GIFs, Motion Stills, Prisma art pieces, Instagram Boomerangs and Hyperspaces. Movies are collections of photos as well, albeit frames laced together.
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams
Photography is just as much about process as is its end-product. Where, when and what camera predetermine the creation process. However, at its essence, photography is the art of noticing.
“The things that deserve our attention are often the things that allude our attention.” – Teju Cole
The challenge today as a photographer is abundance. Since the cloud backs up our photos automatically, we take as many as we want. It is impossible to sort through them let alone remember them. We are so busy capturing, as Om Malik put it, “we confuse photos on our smartphone as memories.” A camera’s memory is infinite; the human brain, distracted and full.
Multiple versions of a photo also make it difficult to select which image is best — companies like EyeM’s The Roll and Microsoft Pix use algorithms to help us decide which version is right for Instagram and which is more suitable for Instagram or Snapchat Stories.
Viewing photos on social media comes with the same overwhelming abundance. 400+ Million photos are shared on Snapchat each day, and more than billion if you combine photos uploaded to Instagram and Facebook. It’s impossible to sort through them all, so we depend on social networks to work their algorithms to show us what’s best.
When we document everything we see, the images lose their meaning. On the other hand, we can look back at photos to see what we missed. Our photos will become the archives for the future to interpret.
The thing about photography is that it always records more than the photographer intends. Photography makes the past present at all times. It changed the world. It gave ordinary people access to their own pasts. – Elizabeth Edwards, In Our Time: The Invention of Photography
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The world in front of us is not as stimulating as the one on our phone. So we look down and instead text, play Pokemon, or Snapchat our outfit.
Sadly, we are used to walking blind.
studies have shown that around one in three people get distracted by their phones when crossing the street.
While some people criticize modernity, others are designing around it. Australian firm Büro North created Smart Tactile Paving to put a red stop and green walk signals into the pavement. This technology may save your life when you think you are just killing time.
Of course, this smart design will not prevent pedestrians from bumping into each other. To increase our field of vision and catch the moment, we can use Casey Neistat’s Beme app.
“When moments without stimulation arise, we start to feel panicked and don’t know what to do with them, because we’ve trained ourselves to expect this stimulation — new notifications and alerts and so on.”
I forgot my wallet this morning. I grabbed my mobile phone though, and perhaps that’s why I forgot my wallet in the first place.
Like music, books, and movies and pretty much everything else, the wallet is converging into the phone. I use the Starbucks app every day. Some day so too your car and house keys will synch along with your passport and license; everything with data will talk to each other. The Smartphone will simply be the remote control to all widgets.
“Any technology that removes a step for people is often the one that ends up winning out.” – Naveen Selvadurai
The good news is that wallet will be one less thing to carry around. You’ll never leave home without it. The bad news is that all it’ll take for someone to take over your life and material possessions will be to steal your phone. Steal your phone, steal your life.