The Intentional Technology newsletter
First edition: What is this Intentional Technology all about?
This newsletter is about using technology intentionally. What does that even mean?
If you are sitting at your laptop clicking frantically, swearing continuously, with a feeling of tension and unease that you barely notice because it is so habitual, you aren’t using technology intentionally. This is how a lot of people use technology. This is how I still sometimes use technology, when I have forgotten everything I have learnt about using technology intentionally.
If you are sitting at your laptop, and you are working intently, with focus and hopefully some sense of enjoyment, and you aren’t even particularly aware of whatever technology you are using, you are probably using technology intentionally.
The aim of this newsletter is to help get you working with technology with focus and enjoyment.
How will that work?
Through a mixture of strategies:
Quick Tips that may make stuff you do everyday a bit more friction-less
some Bigger Ideas about how we think and feel about technology
Supporting this newsletter is a set of online guides, resources and blog posts we are calling the Careful Digital Commons. The purpose of this Digital Commons is to put helpful resources in the public domain so anyone can access them. It is very much a work-in-progress and will grow along this newsletter.
As part of the Careful Digital Commons, we are planning an online guide called Intentional Technology which will lead you through a series of incremental steps towards using technology with focus and enjoyment. It will draw on the latest developments in productivity, technology and research in neuroscience while remaining focused on our everyday use of technology. We hope to expand the guide into an online course which can provide more tailored guidance.
We will keep you up-to-date with the development of the Commons and the online guide through this newsletter.
QUICK TIP: Close everything down between tasks
One piece of standard productivity guidance that is mostly helpful is to concentrate on one task at a time, rather than trying to multi-task. Here is one thing you can do to strengthen the feeling that you really are concentrating on just one task: intentionally closing down any other applications before you starting working on your new task.
This means for example:
closing down any unrelated tabs in your web browser
closing down your email software if you don’t need it for the new task
BIGGER IDEA: We are all Cyborgs now
One of my starting points for thinking about Intentional Technology is the idea that we are all cyborgs now - expressed extremely well way back in 2010 by Amber Case in her much-viewed TED talk.
We are all cyborgs, because although we have so far mostly resisted having technology inserted within our bodies, as the science fiction predicted, we have gleefully accepted a deep dependency on technology outside our bodies: placing our memories in our phones, using our phones to mediate our relationships and navigate and perceive the world. Technology can be amazing, but our use of it can be compulsive and can separate us from what should be near at hand. Screen gazing or typing intently, the wider world and even our own bodies can fade away.
There have been lots of Youtube hours and blog post words dedicated to how to improve these external, secondary digital brains to make us more productive and effective but to me the deeper question is: how do our physical bodies and mind work alongside our external digital helpers? How do we work with technology in ways that allow us to engage deeply with the world around us?
Thanks so much for reading the first Intentional Technology newsletter.
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