2013-05-10

Beyond “always on”

Current technology encourages us to be continuously connected. This blog post predicts that that will change.

Always on

The direction that technology currently takes us could be described as “always on”. The goal is to give us more updates, more quickly. Three recent examples. First, Facebook Home. The website describes the “always on” vision quite well (emphasis is mine):
With Home, everything on your phone gets friendlier. From the moment you turn it on, you see a steady stream of friends’ posts and photos. Upfront notifications and quick access to your essentials mean you’ll never miss a moment. And you can keep chatting with friends, even when you’re using other apps.
Second, Google Glass, where there is always a screen in front of your eyes. Third, existing and rumored smart watches which are also about receiving notifications more directly.

Beyond “always on”

Notifications are a form of stimuli. And, for evolutionary-biological reasons, those are hard to resist for humans. They are mental sugar, if you will. However, we need periods of rest. Thus, my prediction is that health concerns and decreasing interest in social media (et al.) will eventually lead people to look for alternatives. Historically, communication has (roughly) gone through the following stages:
  • very sporadic and asynchronous (letters)
  • sporadic and synchronous (traditional phones)
  • sporadic and asynchronous (non-mobile email)
  • continuous and synchronous (mobile dumbphones)
  • continuous and asynchronous, with the occasional synchronous communication (mobile smartphones)
The most important technology for giving us freedom from “always on” is (fast) asynchronous communication. As we are moving away from being continuously connected, I expect many innovations in that area. Managing one’s attention is a competitive advantage, which increases the likelihood of good solutions being created – there is money to be made.

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