The Girl Who Lost Her Glasses

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She walked back through her apartment. The walls were featureless, painted in neutral colours. The bright wallpaper she’d been so delighted with wasn’t overlaid any more; the Wall of GIFs that made her laugh most mornings was gone. The floating heads of Facebook friends and Instagram frenemies were gone too, trapped behind the glass of her phone screen. They still moved and smiled and joked when she tapped on them. But tapping a phone wasn’t the same as waving to somebody in front of you or flipping the bird at an unsuspecting oversharer. It felt like trying to communicate with butterflies in a box… More at Wareable.

A quick read for the start of the week.

How to Sell a Billion-Dollar Myth

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Some of these articles are written with a dash of knowing humor, because our French Girl obsession has become something of a joke. (Last year, The Cut skewered its ubiquity in a post titled “97 Things You Can Do Like a French Girl.”) In fact, there are times when it seems like our French Girl may not even exist. Maybe she’s just the product of a media pile-on, each story laying the foundation for the next until she’s a commonly accepted fact… More at Racked.

This is a long article, but interesting enough to make the minutes pass quick enough.

Your phone is a dæmon

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The podcast above made me think a little.

In the film The Golden Compass, the characters have dæmons that are animals who are always with them. They share pain, emotions and everything else and must always be together and protect each other.

It made me realise that for many of us, the humble phone is a dæmon in that it is very rarely away from us. I take my phone to the toilet at work purely from a security point of view, but it does stay in the bathroom when I have a shower at home, either playing podcasts or music.

It also comes to lunch with me, navigates me in the car and accompanies me on every break. It is like Judy Murray watching Andy Murray- it is always there.

I see this in most people I know in that their phones are always with them.

So, how about you? Think about it, how often is your phone not with you during a normal day?

#ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike

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This past winter, Sarah Fader, a 37-year-old social media consultant in Brooklyn who has generalized anxiety disorder, texted a friend in Oregon about an impending visit, and when a quick response failed to materialize, she posted on Twitter to her 16,000-plus followers. “I don’t hear from my friend for a day — my thought, they don’t want to be my friend anymore,” she wrote, appending the hashtag #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike… More at NYT.

So common, so sad, so 2017.

I need Alexa in my car

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In the last year’s statistics showed that technology is taking lives as teens and millennials are using their mobile devices while driving. According to Pew Research, the average American teen sends 60 texts in a day, which means lots of them might be read or written behind the wheel. The number of teens killed while texting and driving is also rising, painting a bleak image.

Another report from the American Automobile Association revealed that six in ten car accidents involving teens are caused by using a mobile device… More at TNW.

I suspect that almost all of us will admit to touching our phones while driving. Whether this is an increasing trend or not is hard to know, but with GPS, podcasts, music and so many more functions available, it can be hard to not quickly tap the screen to either get somewhere or change the entertainment you are listening to.

I have tried repositioning my iPhone, tried reducing the air conditioning and tried when the car is at a stop and still Siri is close to useless in such an environment. I gave up trying to play songs etc using Siri long ago and still revert to very occasionally tapping the screen.

Car Play may be more impressive, I will be honest and say I haven’t tried it, but the way Alexa works with all of the extra microphones would appear to be a better in-car solution.

“Alexa. Play the greatest hits of Meat Loaf” (that was a joke, who would ask such a thing?)

“Alexa, open Podcasts and play episode x of x podcast.”

With enough microphones, the car interaction would be completely audible and we have all of the technology we need now to make this work.

The sad fact is that Google understands me in the car, but Siri still cannot so maybe a few software improvements are needed as well.

I’m glad the old BlackBerry died

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When I see people go about their work today I tend to see iPhones in their hands, but I don’t often see them feverishly typing email responses to communications that are coming in at a greater rate every day. It seems to me that the days of thumb typing on devices too small to be good for any human being are over and I have been wondering why.

It could be the case that the limitations of the iPhone have turned out to be a good thing in 2017 and that the perceived benefits of old BlackBerry phones were exactly the opposite.

If you are sending and receiving emails all day on an iPhone you will need to charge it at some point. Also, the virtual keyboard is not as effective as the old BlackBerry keys at knocking out quick messages so those two points alone tend to naturally restrict people from overdoing it in terms of email use.

This, from what I can see, has led people to send and receive less short emails which is far from a bad thing. Email in the workplace has always been a tool that people use to pass a problem on to someone else, pretend they have done something they should have by replying without proper meaning and copying in a bunch of people for no reason other than to clog up their inboxes as well.

Take a look at your work inbox and ask yourself how many of the emails actually require you to do something worthwhile. My guess is that it is the minority and possibly a very small minority.

When I look at my day job today I can see that the number of emails is similar to in the past when I had a work-issued BlackBerry, but there is a change to the content and how useful they are. The majority is still nonsense truth be told, but things have calmed down a little and there seems to be more voice communications now than when BlackBerry was king of the mobile hill.

It could be that we have all grown up and realised that the BlackBerry way of working caused stress, noise and much less efficiency and it could be that the BlackBerry died because of that. Maybe the iPhone just happened to be a more friendly device to use and inadvertently made us see how miserable our work lives were.

I don’t know why it happened, but I for one am very glad the old BlackBerry is dead.

Mobile devices have opened a new era of tech storytelling

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My own text message thread was just 100 texts, sent over three years. Now, my teenage niece can send 100 texts before lunchtime, on a phone that enables her to share these dialogues with the rest of the world. And so I decided to use my iPhone as a tool to explore the present as well as the past. I shot all the contemporary sequences on my iPhone 6, filming at the London locations where I sent or received the original text thread. Stories and relationships that were originally mediated through mobile phones were bought to life using the latest in smartphone production techniques… More at The Conversation.

Really good article. Thanks to Andy.