Do you think technology simplifies or complicates life?
I was recently invited to participate in a debate sponsored by The Economist, and it just went live.
The proposition: If the promise of technology is to simplify our lives, it is failing.
Do you agree or disagree?
There are some fascinating points made by both debaters, and I add a few observations of my own. Be sure to read their “opening statements,” which are what I focus on, before their later rebuttals. Here is the first part of my commentary as a “featured participant”:
I receive 500–1,000 e-mail per day.
To contend with this, I have virtual assistants in Canada and sub-assistants in Bangalore who filter my inboxes using processing rules in Google Docs. Connected via Skype and compensated via PayPal, this team translates a 10-hour task into a 20-minute phone call…
[Reposted from Lifehacker, where I guest posted this article this morning.]
Investment bankers aren’t known for their impulse control.
Several global firms in Zurich don’t allow their bankers to check email more than twice per day. The reason is simple: the more they check email, the more compelled they feel to send email. Technologist Robert Scoble has said that for each email he sends, he gets 1.75 to 2 messages in return. This phenomenon highlights the unscalable nature of most time-management approaches: striving to do more just produces increasingly more to do.
Fifty email messages beget 100, which beget 200 and so on. It’s impossible to manage this with a results-by-volume (or frequency) approach. There are two cornerstone behavioral changes for reversing this trend Read More →
It was 9:47pm at Barnes and Noble on a recent Saturday night, and I had 13 minutes to find a suitable exchange for “The New Yorker Dog Cartoons,” $22 of expensive paper. Bestsellers? Staff recommends? New arrivals or classics? I’d already been there 30 minutes.
Beginning to feel overwhelmed with a ridiculous errand I’d expected to take five minutes, I stumbled across the psychology section. One tome jumped out at me as all too appropriate—The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen or read Barry Schwarz’s 2004 classic, but it seemed like a good time to revisit the principles, among them that:
-The more options you consider, the more buyer’s regret you’ll have.
-The more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your ultimate outcome will be.
This raises an difficult question: Is it better to have the best outcome but be less satisfied, or have an acceptable outcome and be satisfied? Read More →