30 Weeks was a huge dive into the world of tech startups. Through the program we were becoming very aware of what products were being built and where things were headed. We also were meeting with founders and investors and learning on a deeper level how and why these changes were occurring.
We would have discussions about the Apple Watch and all of these new products and apps that were coming out with the claim that they would 'give us back our time,' and 'give us back our lives.'
We just couldn't believe any of it. These products didn't respect the user or their time. Being more connected couldn't actually be what we needed to become happier.
We quickly realized that the last thing we thought the world needed was another app. If we spent our days always connected, always staring at screens, well, then that would be how we spent the rest of our lives.
There are countless articles, viral videos, essays, and memes about our "over connected lives." It was a bit mind-blowing to see how much coverage the problem was actually receiving. It was a bigger problem than we had even imagined. Sherry Turkle has been studying the connection between people and computers for many years now out of MIT, and has written some seriously eye-opening books. Alone Together is great, she is truly an expert.
"They don't only change what we do, they change who we are." Sherry goes on to explain how our little devices are having serious psychological effects on us, affecting both our relationships with others as well as our relationships with ourselves.
Humans have always understood the importance of staying in the moment. The internet is not the only cause of the problem, but what scared us is how quickly we've gotten to where we are today. We were sold on all of the benefits of new tech - being able to FaceTime with family is amazing- but that is only the tip of how we actually use our devices.
The problems with our tech-life balance have spread across the board. From the side effects of radiation and ruining our neck and eyes, to changes in etiquette and socialization. Tungsten light from our screens is preventing our nervous systems from allowing us to properly rest. Looking in each other's eyes makes us uncomfortable. Reaching for our phones has become a nervous habit. We'll say we don't have enough time to do the things we aspire to, but yet can spend hours a day scrolling.
'Retention' is a metric that startups love to use. It analyzes how many hours each user spends on an app each day. The reason this is so important is because many of these products have an advertising based revenue model. We're seeing products built because people will use them, but not because people need them. This is not a human centered approach to building or designing products.
James Cooper was one of our resident advisors in the incubator, he comes from Betaworks. He shared this great piece that he wrote with us.
Some other articles we were reading:
by Jonathan Harris
by Clay Shirky
by John Maeda
by Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward
by Malcom Gladwell
by Laura M. Holson
by Matt Killingsworth