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more thoughts on Mortality & User Experience

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Jan. 7th, 2007 | 11:29 am
music: Demetri Martin - Electric Brain

Bryan Zug was kind enough to provide Ignite with video of our talks from back in December. I highly recommend Berkun, Buster, and Maxwell's talks.

I was waiting up until now to post about mine since watching it is much easier than trying to recap it...


of all the slides, with more time, I would've dug deeper on this one...

Mortality & User Experience - Slide (15)

It seems to me that we are on an accelerated path towards a Neo-like world where one would be able to plug their brain into the net and instantly learn a skill like kung-fu. Looking at younger generations, they're using many of the same technologies adults use like blogs and wikis, and I wonder what the effect of all of this increased information intake is going to be on them. Will they actually be happier, smarter, better at what they chose to do later in life or will they be grown-up A.D.D. monsters, unimpressed by much of anything because they've already seen it all?

My generation grew up without the internet, but had little tastes here and there with BBS's and video games, but nothing approaching the volume of easily accessible information that's in most modern households. Not having had that as a child, I think many of us are comfortable turning it off, going on vacation and not worrying about our inboxes, or just unplugging every now and then. Will these kids who have had the net from day one be able to do that? I'm not so sure...

whaleboy

Futurists like Ray Kurzweil would probably argue that unplugging may not be something we should value and that trying to fight connectedness and its effects is pointless since it's inevitable and part of human evolution. While it's true that the cat is out of the bag on this point... I think it's vital that new generations understand the value of offline time. We'll just have to impart this to them over an IM session or a MySpace message to get their attention.

Another factoid I didn't include on that last related post is the following:

One weekday edition of the New York Times, contains more information than average citizens of 17th century England came across in their entire lifetime.
What will that factoid look like 10, 20, 50 years from now when the people of that time look back on us today? How does the human being cope with all of this information and what are the long-term effects on the mind... particularly happiness?

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, makes a great point about the paralysis that can ensue from trying to be Neo-like in his short talk at TED using the analogy of a fish swimming in a fish bowl.



If one were to smash the fishbowl, removing all constraints to give the fish absolute freedom, it would flop around until it was dead (like in a certain Faith No More video). In the picture above however, that is most certainly too small of a bowl for the fish to do much of anything besides swim around in a circle. This invites the question: How big do we make our own personal fish bowls? What areas am I ok saying, "that is not something I'm going to pursue and I am comfortable letting it go," but at the same time providing enough opportunity and information so that I can grow in the areas that I'm most interested in?

I've been trying to get more clarity on my own self-chosen constraints as of late. "Letting go" in some areas shouldn't feel like a failure, but more like attaining greater focus on the things that matter most. I know many people are already good at this intuitively, but for the rest of it, I think it's a helpful exercise to get concrete about it...

My personal fishbowl

Some more food for thought on the subject on this blog post and Schwartz's longer Google talk on the subject.

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Comments {11}

staticbullets

(no subject)

from: staticbullets
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 07:52 pm (UTC)
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Hi Ario,

Excellent talk, I enjoyed it greatly. I thought of you when i found this link.

Emotion & Design: Attractive things work better

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
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ah yes, Mr. Norman... definitely a big fan of his work. Did you see his response to the current simplicity craze?

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sisyphean existence

(no subject)

from: iamdonte
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC)
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ario the bodybuilder? i think that'd be pretty fucking awesome. put it back in the bowl!

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the original artform

(no subject)

from: finkeljautobahn
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
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awesome post.

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lady & the tiger

(no subject)

from: alicetiara
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
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Awesome post. Although I think you might want to reconsider World's Greatest Rapper. With the East Bay blowing up this summer, the PacNW can only be next. You could be the Persian E-40.

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Jan. 7th, 2007 11:31 pm (UTC)
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haahha! yeah, maybe I am limiting myself too much...

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shoop

(no subject)

from: mcfnord
date: Jan. 8th, 2007 04:20 am (UTC)
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occasionally i think about the mere 1970's where everything was some obscure computer accountant, like the Phone Company or Bank, sending monthly statements, papers xreffed to other papers. my preferred information (broadcast t.v.) was still fundamentally deeply programmed against me. Print was indeed cheap, but even print came by a Book-mobile. In high school I'd go ten miles by bicycle to the university library, a vast ocean of wonders. My perception of computers for a decade was a solidary deed done in an isolated environment. I was active in bbs's but there was still an atomic character to the experience. (Except Chatting with the Sysop! Ctrl-z to exit.) Still, the curious people learned, as possibly they usually have through history. Did they learn as much? Is that the way to see it? When information could be of aid, hopefully they learned to use it. But it always took great telephone and postal skillz.

I can see the subtle ways your era differs from my own, even though they are separated by less than a decade. Compare this to the 1700's, where each generation changed so minutely.

I am an information skeptic but it's undoubtable that I'm living in its economy, and that much of it is inherantly valuable. That's an upgrade, but i still have misgivings. Last night I worked on cellular media accounting as a technical writer, here in my house, and later in my dreams I was stacking ideas into rows. It was a bit nightmareish, like the dreams of any factory. Now the factory is invisible, and the process needs more than hands. It would be nice to earn a living only using my hands, at least some of the time. My lifestyle is pretty active, but at work like Neo i lay on the floor and relax and enter this noosphere. Give it all the focus so you can get out of it for at least an hour later today. I do think it's addictive, in all the negative ways of the word, and also the positive ways.

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:: regarder of the cries of the world ::

(no subject)

from: xaotica
date: Jan. 8th, 2007 04:39 am (UTC)
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getting concrete that way always makes me feel like this onion post - project manager leaves suicide powerpoint presentation

you should come to my yoga place ;) they have a free class saturdays

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Jan. 8th, 2007 04:42 am (UTC)
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it's totally tongue-in-cheek :) yoga once a week is about all i can fit in (i go mondays at pro club), but i'll keep it in mind!

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A/D/A converter

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from: velourik
date: Jan. 11th, 2007 04:45 am (UTC)
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Well done on the presentation; interesting points abound.

Furthermore, thanks for bringing my attention to Dr. Schwartz. In such a sociably connected age, his ideas are particularly timely and insightful.

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ario

(no subject)

from: interimlover
date: Jan. 11th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
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my pleasure :)

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