Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

chattingYou don’t have to search long to find some astounding statistic about how much data is accumulating daily in the world thanks to technology and the growing norm of connectivity between people and networks.  You could easily spend your day just reading volumes of information and data that come at you via email, social networks and other media, not to mention taking time to actually read books, magazines and other resources you want to spend time absorbing.

Since my professional world and much of my personal world revolves around social media, it is easy to get focused on the transmission of data.  When that happens, attention to articles, graphics, statistics, polls, reports, blogs, tweets, posts, etc. crowds out having actual conversations with others.  That’s a shame.

This came home to me recently when some colleagues in a professional organization I belong to were chatting via Twitter.  Most of us confessed to using Twitter to pass along links to articles and other info, but not enough just to chat with others.  Since then I have been more mindful about responding more often at a personal level to people on Twitter than I have previously.  It doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue on Facebook where comments are far more common.

We hear much about big data and trends that focus on information rather than people.  That isn’t going to change, so I’m not here to bemoan the trend.  I do want, however, to remind others and myself that in the midst of the inevitable immersion of data, we need to take time to chat with others – to work on the simple thing of developing relationships and friendships with those along our path.  This is true whether it’s with people we know only via social media or if they are coworkers nearby in the office.

We’re still human.  That means we need to connect with others at a deeper level than just professional or informational transactions.  We need the personal touch that brings meaning and joy to a world dominated by data.  After all, I doubt I’ll leave this world wishing I had experienced better data.

Leap year lesson #346 is Take time to chat.

For a large chunk of the past 48 hours I have been immersed in the fun that comes with upgrading to a new phone – updating contacts, downloading apps, setting up things the way I want them to be, getting rid of junk that comes on the phone that I don’t want, organizing the interface to be friendly, testing out a bunch of new features that make me wonder how I got along with my previous device as long as I did.  You know the drill, especially if you’ve been in the smartphone world for a while.

Now that I have my Samsung Galaxy Note II organized pretty much the way I want it, today’s test is to let it run constantly in the background, playing all the music I transferred to it from my old phone in order to test the battery life and to weed out older songs I no longer want to keep around.

In fact, the whole process of making the switch from one phone to another is a great opportunity to clean out some of the old and focus on the new.  As I was going through the contacts I have stored, I decided there was no good reason to keep some of those people as contacts any more.  They are from days, places of employment and lives past that I don’t see in my future.  I know it sounds kind of cold, but it was time to let go of some.

New Years is the most natural time to say good bye to the old and to focus on the new.  That doesn’t mean, however, that we can’t and shouldn’t do so from time to time during the year.  Upgrades in technology can be an opportunity for such change.  Instead of dreading your next phone or PC upgrade, then, take advantage of it and use it as a time to clean up shop – remove old contacts, old apps, old files, and concentrate on breaking new ground with a fresh start.

Leap year lesson #304 is Technology upgrades can bring positive change.

Friday night I took my father to buy a new computer.  His old one bit the dust a little over a month ago and it was time to start fresh.

We went to an electronics store in Lexington, KY and selected one that was a good fit.  Then we went to pay for it.  That’s when this store filled with electronics disappointed because of their way of dealing with someone who wanted to write a check. (There was the other unimpressive moment when the sales clerk attempted to up-sell Dad into buying a touch screen desktop unit and the screen failed numerous times to respond to the clerk’s touch, but we’ll overlook that ineffective sales pitch since we weren’t interested anyway).

Dad had enough cash on him and could have paid that way.  He could have used a credit card and then written a check to the credit card company.  But he didn’t want to part with that much cash or go through the hassle of a subsequent bill, eventually still having to write a check when he could just take care of it there.  However, when the sales clerk saw that he whipped out a checkbook, Dad was told “Just put the date on it and sign.  We do the rest by putting it through here” (pointing to the register).

After numerous failures of trying to get their device to do what it needed to do with a check, a manager was called over.  He wasn’t successful either.  We were sent to the customer service desk because they thought that machine could do it.  It finally did.

Life and our customer experience would have been much better for all concerned if they simply let my dad write a check, but they don’t do it that way any more.  Their new, improved, automated, electronic means was more complicated, less friendly, prone to error, and in my opinion a step back both from the elegance of simplicity and a good customer experience.  It leads me to leap year lesson #154 – Not all technological innovation is good.

Have you had any such times you can tell me about in a comment?

As pervasive as social media is today, a majority of the people on earth still don’t use it.  That’s hard to imagine for some of us whose work lives and much of personal lives seem to revolve around it, but it’s true.  Facebook’s nearly 1 billion users is a genuinely impressive number, but so is the 6 billion not using it.

Some don’t use social media because they do not have access to it.  They are in underdeveloped countries without the technology, or they don’t have the personal resources to spend what it takes to be online, or their countries don’t allow them to use it, or their lives are following paths and work and pursuits that have no need for it, or – gasp – they just choose not to even though they have the access and means to do so.

It is the last group – the ones who choose not to use it – to whom I plead they reconsider.  For them to do so requires that we address the “What’s in it for me?” question they may well have.

The overly simplistic graphic I created above shows in the smaller blue circles the world of relationships and connections in which most people on earth live.  It consists of friends, family, coworkers and others we know or have access to through various direct or indirect channels.  The small blue circles describe the connections for the shepherd in a field, the leader of a tribe, the worker on an assembly line, the knowledge worker or the president of a country.

If one chooses, however, to take advantage of the world of social media, then the potential for personal connections, information, knowledge exchange and extending your own influence literally has no earthly boundary, at least among others who also choose to extend their world through social media.

Why would anyone choose less knowledge, less information, less influence, less efficiency, fewer contacts, and a host of other less-than-optimal resources when so much more is just waiting for them on the other side of a keyboard?

I wish more were excited about the reality of and the possibilities that come from leap year lesson #145 – Social media brings the world to you.

As one who is almost always online – both at work and outside of work – stepping away from technology for any period of time is difficult for me. As I anticipate spending the next several days in a personal retreat at The Abbey of Gethsemani, I’m in a bit of a quandary over what to do about my daily blog updates here.

Part of my reason for getting away is to unplug from the always-on status of my daily life. Reflecting on lessons learned for the day will still be a part of each day on the retreat, and writing those down will be a part of the day’s end. The issue is whether or not I leave the Abbey long enough to go somewhere with Internet access to upload the daily blog posts, or whether I wait until I’m back home Friday to upload them.

This may seem like a silly dilemma for some, but as one who likes and appreciates routine and who is absolutely determined to write for this blog daily this year, it is a decision that’s tough for me to make. I’m not sure what I’ll do.

Regardless of my decision for the next several days, it is an interesting takeaway that for many, including myself, being online is now a major, constant part of daily life. That isn’t necessarily good or bad. It’s just a change in reality that technology enables. It brings with it the expectation that we use our chosen technology to access the information, people and resources we want whenever and wherever we want. Doing without initiates some kind of withdrawal that is just as real as any physical withdrawal from other substances.

We all inherently know the hollowness of the addict’s claim that he can quit anytime he chooses. We know it not to be true. So maybe I need to not make this an almost unplugged event and, instead, sever the cord and actually unplug. We’ll see.

Besides me, you’ll be the first to know since the only way you’ll see blog posts here at least Tuesday-Thursday this week is if I unplug completely.

Here’s to the journey. Leap year lesson #85 is Unplugging is difficult.