Why Fascination with Wearables and Presence?

As I sat through the sessions at SxSW on Wearable technologies in March, something clicked.  As a lover of gadgets, I am always eager to try new things if they have a purpose that I can relate to. My passion for social strategy and getting people to engage with each other on a deeper level for mutual benefit had a connection here and it was finally becoming clear.  Something about motivating each other by sharing data, about getting out and getting fit, about being more present in the moment with others was standing out.  I was and am determine to dig deeper.  Call me crazy, but I even changed my doctoral dissertation to focus on finding more answers.

Lola, the UP dogMy first really effective wearable was my Jawbone UP band.  When living in Sweden, my Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) became acute. Some ways to combat S.A.D., like many forms of depression, is movement, fresh air and social interaction.  I used the idle vibration alert to get me through the Winter months.  I trained my service dog to respond to the alert.  So that, even if the vibration wasn’t sufficient enough to modify my behavior, her tugging at my sleeve to urge a walkabout resulted in action.  Once out and about, I became progressively more engaged and present with my work, my research and my interactions with my family and friends.  It was the action that created the presence, but I believe the action would not have occurred without the stimulation of the wearable (and a little tug from Lola).

What about other discreet wearables?  I am most curious about wearables that passively monitor and alert us to behaviors that are detrimental to our being present, mindful in the moment.  So, my journey begins here (well, sort of, the sharing begins here).  I look forward to sharing more with you as it continues.  I will continue to share, and I hope you will too.  Feel free to contact me directly if you have stories, wearables, research that you think would be relevant.  I look forward to hearing about them and from you.

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Prioritise Balance

The sun is out here, which is a big thing after the well known dark Winter in Sweden. The result is that people are outside. By nature they are being more efficient and selective about how they use their time online to minimise it. One would think that I would discourage decreasing online interaction. Actually it is quite the contrary. I think we should because quality, not quantity, is what is most effective. The tools we are developing are to achieve just that. Directing us to the sites and resources that are relevant to us to avoid wasted time. For time is what we have the greatest limitation on.

This is the time of year we should be tracking sites for effectiveness (at least in the Northern Hemisphere). If we are getting good traffic now from the North, then we are doing something right. Internet traffic, just like television and demand for films goes down during the Spring and Summer. I certainly hope it doesdrastically, otherwise, health will be the greater problem.

Here are some ways to maximise online effectiveness and minimising the time spent online:

* bike to work
* cut down on the number of social networks active in, but use tracking tools for opportunities to participate when relevant and focus on topic specific, or interest specific communities for here and now
* use file sharing tools (ie. Google docs) to avoid having to distribute
* delegate tasks that others can do more effectively
* turn off the indicator for new messages on your smart phone to concentrate on the tasks at hand, or people that we are meeting with
* use broadcasting tools for updates to avoid re-entry
* get outside and breath fresh air at lunch time (yes, leave the desk for lunch)
* work while your are effective, if you are wasting a lot of time (daydreaming, getting distracted by “interesting websites or news”, chatting) go for a quick walk outside, and then come back with a fresh perspective (coffee may be required).
* take the extra 5 minutes to take the scenic route home (and enjoy it).
* be present

These may sounds obvious, but I find it is helpful to remind myself of these basics regularly. Just like staying focused on a vision, focusing on balance can help maintain the vision.

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