Smartphones are the new Cigarettes? Really?

According to Mark Manson they are

Its quite alarmist title but to be fair his recent book “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” (I have started reading this book btw) also sums up a lot; although his blog about feminism really spoke to me.

The start of Marks arguement stems from going to gym and having people checking their phone in the middle of a session.

And the coach got pissed, yelled at them to put their fucking phones away, and we all stood around awkwardly.

This proceeded to happen two or three times in the class, as it does in pretty much every class, and for whatever reason, today I decided to speak my mind to the women glued to her phone while the rest of us were working out:

Is there really nothing in your life that can’t wait 30 minutes? Or are you curing cancer or something?

Point taken (although I did that nervous laugh when first reading this). I have lots of thoughts about this myself too, especially after coming back from Tokyo. I’ve been grappling with it and started thinking maybe I’m just getting old?

Smoking & Texting

I have been reading Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together book and haven’t even got to the part about smartphones yet. I’m still early in the book about robots and how we are react to them. Fascinating and slightly scary in someways.

Mark calls it Attention pollution

…somebody else’s inability to focus or control themselves then interferes with the attention and focus of those around them.

Then goes into detail…

…with the explosion in smart devices and internet available pretty much everywhere from Timbuktu to your mother’s ass crack, attention pollution is infiltrating our daily lives more and more without us realizing it.

It’s why we get annoyed at dinner when someone starts texting in front of us. It’s why we get pissed off when someone pulls their phone out in a movie theater. It’s why we become irritated when someone is checking their email instead of watching the ballgame.

Their inability to focus interferes with our (already-fragile) ability to focus. The same way second-hand smoke harms the lungs of people around the smoker, smartphones harm the attention and focus of people around the smartphone user. It hijacks our senses. It forces us to pause our conversations and redouble our thoughts unnecessarily. It causes us to lose our train of thought and forget that important point we were constructing in our head. It erodes at our ability to connect and simply be present with one another, destroying intimacy in the process.

Ok I hear you MarkAttention is precious thing, I’ve said this for years in blog posts and presentations around perceptive media.

Human attention is a scarce commodity

But I disagree on something and you would expect so as a person who finds it slight weird being offline for too long.

Its about choice, social norms and context.

For example I am writing this blog in Ezra & Gil coffee shop with no headphones listening to conversations around me. Ezra includes free wifi from Telecom which you need to click on every hour or so. Theres plugs around the sides of the Cafe, on the high tables best suited for laptop users. While I was in Iceland I spent sometime Reykjavik Roasters which has no wifi deliberately to encourage a different kind of environment. I could have gone around the block to one of the many Te & Kaffi’s but choose to give it a try (choice).

Back to Ezra, some of the conversations are person to person, some are video chat via phone or laptop (these tend to be quieter – social norms). I personally find this more useful for my own mind when writing and thinking. Hence I regularly work out of the northern quarter to help me think. However I don’t want someone on their smartphone while in the cinema (contextual).

Its helped having a smartwatch and I deliberately delay most of my notifications.

Simple but slightly naive solution to Mark gym problem. The coach makes it clear at the start what kind of attention is required. The people then have a choice if they take part or not. If this is broken social norm will take effect. If the notification is so big it cant be ignored, context will mean you can’t carry on anyway.

I do agree there is a problem but comparing it to smoking isn’t quite right in my head. Yes people fill in the silences by looking at their phones, yes I find ringtones in public very annoying (who has their phone on anything but vibrate now a days?) and yes there is a big problem with notifications. But unlike smoking there are big benefits to smartphones too (unlike smoking).

With the right amount of self control, context awareness and established social norms; it could be something incredible. But then we get into what they are actually doing on the phone which is a whole different blog.

Stop making stupid people famous

Programmatic media sounds a bit like Perceptive Media?

Kill Bill Advertising

I swear Tony sent me a tweet with a pointer to this piece titled Programmatic Beyond Advertising: A Not-So-Distant Future in CMF trends.

Its mainly about advertising including a bit about the just in time advertising space which is coming about because of the lightening speed of data and the ability to replace advertising/content on the fly.

Heard it all before but then there was this part…

…what if programmatic could be used for content other than advertising?

If we extend this thinking (and our imagination) a little further to consider the possible emergence of a new distribution method for cultural or editorial content based on programmatic logic and methods, we could ask whether these new “programmatic” models could be applied to the automated distribution of film and television content based on audiences and their data.

Based on this logic, “programmatic content distribution” could be imagined as a flow in which the data collected from users would trigger an automated rights transaction and content delivery process between right-holders and broadcasters. The final result would be the broadcasting of content corresponding to the preferences of the targeted user.

Yes indeed, this is the start of Perceptive Media, if you haven’t already guessed. Its always good to hear others make the same leaps in thinking of course…

Perceptive media in wired magazine

Programmatic media?  Don’t think that will fly as a term, I’m sorry to say. Although I have to say, this description would be more like responsive media than perceptive media.

It was in make do share warsaw that I first heard Lance Weiler talk about them in quite different contexts and it did make sense. Phil has been grouping them together as contextual media which works as a superset of both, although I worry about the previous examples of contextual media clouding things.

The next part of the article I’m less interested in but something I have thought about a tiny bit…

Moreover, it would be possible to monetize this video content by attaching superimposed or pre-roll ads to it, as commonly seen on video aggregation platforms.

This valuable collection of user data and preferences for viewing a movie or television show could be done on a voluntary basis; for example, users would simply answer a few questions on their mood, the type of movie or series, and the desired language and duration so that the platform can preselect and “program” content that meets their criteria.

But we know that the Web, which is very advanced in big data collection, is already capable of gathering this data using algorithms. Users’ actions on a given site—the keywords they search for, the links they click on, their daily search history—can indicate to the platforms what type of content they are likely to be interested in.

The problem they will get is the explicit nature of the input, I feel. Yes its easier on the web but the person is leaning forward interacting most of the time anyway. When you get into the living room it gets a little more tricky, and a implicit approach is better in my mind. Yes it can get creepy but it doesn’t break the immersion and in my mind thats very key.

The essence of the programmatic distribution mechanism would therefore be as a recommendation super-engine, more sophisticated than that currently found on various platforms.

Why is it everybody thinks fancy recommendation engines? If this is the ambition of the industry, I feel we should be breaking into another dimension. Hopefully some of the things I’m responsible for will match that ambition/moon shot.

Context is queen?

I wanted my grandmothers pokerface....

I’m hearing a lot of talk about how 2013 is The year responsive design starts to get weird… or rather how its going to be all about responsive design (what happened to adaptive designing who knows)

Think it’s hard to adapt your content to mobile, tablet, and desktop? Just wait until you have to ask how this will also look on the smart TV. Or the refrigerator door. Or on the bathroom mirror.

Or on a user’s eye.

They’re all coming…if they aren’t already here. It doesn’t take much imagination or deep reading of the tech press to know that in 2013 more and more devices will connect to the internet and become another way for people to consume internets.

We’ll see the first versions of Google’s Project Glass in 2013. A set of smart glasses will put the internet on a user’s eyes for the first time. Reaction to early sneak peeks is a mix of mockery and amazement, mostly depending on your propensity for tech lust. We don’t know much about them, other than some tantalizing video, but Google is making them, so it’s a safe bet that Chrome For Your Eyes will be in there. And that means some news organization in 2013 is going to ask: “How does this look jammed right into a user’s eyeballs?”

Stop! Nieman labs is forgetting something major! And I could argue they are still thinking in a publishing/broadcasting mindset

Yes the C word, Context…

Ironically this is something Robert Scoble actually gets in his blog post, The coming automatic, freaky, contextual world and why we’re writing a book about it.

A TV guide that shows you stuff to watch. Automatically. Based on who you are. A contextual system that watches Gmail and Google Calendar and tells you stuff that it learns. A photo app that sends photos to each other automatically if you photograph them together. And then there’s the Google Glasses (AKA Project Glass) that will tell you stuff about your world before you knew you needed to know. There is a new toy coming this Christmas that will entertain your kids and change depending on the context they are in (it will know it’s a rainy day, for instance, and will change their behavior accordingly)

Context is whats missing and in the mindset of pushing content around (broadcast and publishing) and into peoples faces, responsive design sounds like a good idea. Soon as you add context to the mix, it doesn’t sound so great. Actually it sounds damm right annoying or even intrusive? I do understand its the best we got right now, but as sensors become more common, we’ll finally be able to understand context and hopefully be able to build perceptive systems.

We already demonstrated, sensors don’t have to be cameras, gyroscopes, etc. The referral, operating system, screen resolution, cookies, etc all are bits of data which can (some maybe less that others) be used to understand the context.

I can come up with many scenarios where the responsive part gets in the way, unless you are also considering the context. In a few years time, we’ll look back at this period of time and laugh, wondering what the heck were we thinking…

I’m with Scoble on this one… Context and Content are the Queen and King.