🐛 Mail bugs, paper phones and the nature of technological change
Welcome to the Big Kid calm tech special
In other news, after 3 months, my job hunt journey has come to an end! This month I start my new role as a user researcher at CANVA and I couldn’t be more thrilled 🥳
If you’re also searching for a new job, I summarised my process and top tips in this job hunt field guide. I hope you find it useful 💖
Mail bug. It got me thinking.
This is the Mail Bug.
A device who’s single use case is for writing, sending and receiving email. I love it and here’s why:
Every morning I wake up with a supercomputer next to me. As I roll over to turn my phone’s alarm off, I’m tempted to take a peek at my email and we’re off and running. Emails, Instagram, Texts. I’m awake.
My phone is a context switching, multi-tasking machine; comfortable doing 100 things at once…but am I?
Overall, humans are fairly excellent ‘multitaskers’. For example, when we drive, we’re parallel processing many ‘tasks’ at once; accelerate, clutch, turn the wheel, scan for pedestrians. As a learner each task requires a lot of conscious effort and attention, but with practice these tasks are automated. On the contrary, no matter how much I practice I’ll never be able to effectively watercolour paint and drive.
Research tells us that light to medium multitasking is actually 👌 It’s heavy multitasking and distractions that are costly (mainly for tasks that require sustained, focused attention and a high degree of accuracy).
I love the mail bug because it does one thing at a time. When I’m on my computer, it’s all too easy to suddenly find myself heavily multitasking. The digital equivalent of trying to watercolour paint and drive.
I want to slow down. I want to be more like the mail bug.
To start, I bought an alarm clock to tease apart the ‘all in one’ nature of my devices, scheduled 2 emailing blocks per day and made a number of different ‘users’ on my computer so that I can create different OS environments. For a growing list of techniques I’m testing check out this Notion list. How do you drive your device- I’d love to know! Comment in Notion with some of your top tips!
My favourite playful web picks for the month
Envelope by Special Projects Pop your phone into this paper envelope to transform it into a simpler, calmer device. One particular envelope only allows you to make and take calls on your phone. Imaaaaaagine.
Lantern by Nord Projects Hacking an IKEA lamp with a Raspberry Pi, projector and accelerometer. The result is a lamp that can send you subtle, glanceable information through ambient light.
Calm Tech Exercises Human-Centered Design activities by Amber Case focused on redesigning and reimagining everyday tools to be kinder and calmer.
Alchemy Studies An iPhone that was ground up into fine dust and encased in a glass globe. It’s so entirely mesmerizing to see the iPhone so….still and quiet.
Microsoft Inclusive Design guidelines Head to the module on ‘respecting attention’ for a series of questions to consider during the design process.
Mute distracting notifications, grab a warm cuppa and find a seat in the sun.
✨Five things we need to know about technological change ✨by Neil Postman
A frank look at the cost of technological change. Best paired with this quote from Susan Schneider (Artificial You: AI and the Future of Your Mind):
“We walk on the moon, we harness the energy of the atom, yet racism, greed and violence are still commonplace. Our social development lags behind our technological prowess.”
If you like this newsletter and found it’s content useful, share it with a friend you also think will like it! If you’re feeling particularly generous, consider buying me a virtual coffee 💖 This helps fund little experimental projects and software subscriptions.