digitally INTELLIGENT neohuman
I forgot to hydrate throughout most of the day today. That had a pretty disruptive adverse effect on my overall productivity (I suspect an almost direct correlation) and general state of mind. Which led me to think about — after having hydrated to proper levels — the issue of our — or at least my — “external brains”.
The future is nothing new
From what I can tell, humans have always been able to survive and evolve through technology. Whereas other species adapted, we created new technology to stay in control of our environments.
When we really think about it, even these external brains are old news — for thousands of years we have had ways to record our thoughts and memories. In fact, we have had a compulsion to do so.
This is why I don’t really understand the freaking out and judgement of people saying “tech makes you dumb”.
How many decisions do we make every day? Thousands? Where to go, where to turn, what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, what to say, what to do.
For folks like me, who are in the business of being creative for a living, those decisions are multiplied — as a writer I have to make decisions not just for myself but for my characters, from protagonist to the last extra, as well. Anything that helps relieve the weight of some of those decisions will help me by leaving more capacity to make the decisions that matter.
Mark Zuckerberg famously wears only a single type of T-shirt, because eliminating even a tiny bit of decision frees up some of his time. I love the concept of that. (I have a similar policy with Iron Man tees. 😀)
All in all, the less decisions I have to make, and the less information (that I use only occasionally anyway) I need to store myself, the better off I am.
Me, myself, and my smartphone
I’m going to do a few of the “what’s on my iPhone” type of posts at some point, because they’re always fun, especially when read sequentially and seeing the progression. And I like to try out new things from time to time, and why not share my experiences? For now, though, I’d like to talk about the bigger picture.
Let’s go back to hydration. Today I installed an app called ‘My Water Balance’ to remind me regularly to drink water. I’m not entirely sure this will be “the” app (or if there’s even such a thing) but it’s a start.
Now, this may seem silly — some people would just say “carry a damn bottle and drink”. My point is that if I can make my life less complicated by having to remember one less thing, I will. I will argue that my time and brain power is better utilized elsewhere.
Of course, I don’t just use my smartphone to remind me to drink water. In fact, I have — through a lot of time invested — to create a list of apps that offload bits and pieces from my brain. Just one example: I use my phone to maintain a solid streak in my habits (thus building them) like writing, reading, social media, and so on.
I don’t see my smartphone as an external device, but instead prefer to think of it as an extension of myself.
Is it dangerous to be so dependent on a single piece of technology? Maybe. Then again, we’re pretty damn dependent on our hearts, brains, etc. working. How exactly is a smart device any different?
Going with the flow
What I’m doing is not unique. Millions of people are using their smart devices (I only have my phone!) to simplify their lives. Automating what can and should be automated frees you up to spend more time with things where it matters that you spend time with them.
Again, this isn’t anything new. From manual plowing to using tools and later machines improved farming. There is a danger in automation, and technological advancement always come with a cost. It’s true that it eliminates the need for certain older solutions or professions.
Being sentimental about them, however, is a slippery slope to becoming a luddite. People can always be retrained, professions and “life as we know it” documented for our descendants. (And it’s important that they are and it is.)
That said, my opinion is firmly that (as it so happens, digital) evolution will happen with or without our permission; it’s coded in our DNA or written in our fate, or whatever else it may be. We can either struggle against it, or embrace it. I chose the latter.
Write, document, repeat. I’m doing this new thing: it’s an experiment, mixing different platforms and media to tell the different stories of a working writer: the good, bad, ugly, mundane and spectacular. Documenting my life, initially for a year, and see what happens. Journaling privately has been such a blast and a useful foundation to become more consistent, and I thought I’d try my hand at making certain stories public.
It’s really about going all in: trying out a bunch of stuff, different media — text, images, video, and see what shakes out. I’d love to know what you think: get in touch with me on social media, and tell me what you like/don’t like.
Thank you! I really appreciate you being here.