iPads and Bedtime Reading

Bedtime reading with a tablet or smartphone can interfere with a good night’s sleep, some studies and many anecdotal reports suggest. Now researchers have conducted a small experiment to test the idea. Volunteers in this study reported less sleepy in the evening , and less alert in the morning after using the electronic device.

One of the co-authors of this study concluded that these devices are not benign. They have biological effects on us. I recently blogged about the social (or antisocial) effects of these “handy” devices on our interpersonal relationships. Now we discover that we may be losing physiological energy as well. Our digital tools may be our new “best,” and most demanding friends.

Where would we be without them?

Ray Myers

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Hands on the Wheel, Eyes on the Road

If you’re driving right now, it’s far more likely you are reading this on your phone than you would have been a year ago. Despite a harrowing surge in traffic fatalities, American drivers appear to be getting worse at avoiding Instagram, e-mail and other mobile-phone distractions while driving. More people are using their phones at the wheel, and for longer periods of time, according to a study published Tuesday from Zendrive, a San Francisco-based startup that tracks phone use for auto insurers and ride-hailing fleets.

“As you have more young drivers on the road, and as people increasingly become addicted to their smartphones, it will continue being a major health issue—almost an epidemic—in this country,” said Zendrive founder Jonathan Matus. From December through February, Zendrive technology monitored 4.5 million drivers who traveled 7.1 billion miles, comparing the results with the year-earlier period. Roughly two out of three of those people used a mobile phone at least once.”

One of the few bright spots of the study is that drivers tend to use their phone as they first start out on a trip, perhaps ending a message thread before settling in for the journey. While that window of time isn’t any safer than any other moment behind the wheel, Matus believes it may present an opportunity for changing behavior. A publicity campaign urging drivers to finish screen work, or just catch up on Instagram, before setting out could produce results. “Legislation, by itself, is clearly not enough,” he explained.

Ray Myers

Please Don’t Email Me – Let’s Talk

Maybe it was just a matter of time, but it looks like email may be falling under its own weight.  Take a look at your inbox.  Do you pride yourself in having all those important messages just waiting for your witty and pithy responses, or are you just impressed with the scope and depth of your importance in the age of the Internet?  Or maybe you are just fooling yourself and others?  Something will be getting done in the long run, but I think you may be losing something else in the process.  You may actually be able to get more done, more efficiently by returning to the days of meeting face-to-face, or talking on a phone of any kind.  Not to mention honing your interpersonal skills in the process, if that is important to you?

“Email sometimes tricks us into feeling efficient, but it rarely is.  Because it’s asynchronous, and because there are no limits to space and time, it often leads to endless, pointless ruminations.”  If decision-makers had ditched email and just held a 15 minute meeting, members of the campaign (presidential) could have hashed out some decisions more quickly in private.  “In other words, limits often help.  Get on the phone, make a decision, ditch your inbox.  The world will be better off for it.”

In the words of one security expert, in light of the hacked world we live in: “If you have something sensitive to say, you’re going to use the phone or walk down the hallway.”

Ray Myers


Digitally Yours

Too busy this holiday season or any other time of the year to write handwritten notes, no problem!  You now have Bond, not James, who can take care of all that for you.  In this case, technology will reproduce your own handwriting, or any other if you prefer, and dispatch all of these carefully crafted personalized missives for you.  Now, of course, there is a price for this convenience, but who has the time any more to send all these “thank-yous,” and all I can tell you is that Bond’s business is booming, at least in the New York area.

Good manners and good business sense all wrapped into one thanks to robotics.  These robots, however, can be programmed to write in your own handwritten script or any other you may prefer.  There are currently 200 robotic writing machines in Bond’s  Manhattan facilities.  An invitation only service costs $1,200 a year and provides clients with a personalized mobile app to send notes in their own handwriting on custom stationary.  Other personalized messaging services range from $3.50 to $2.50 per card (corporate accounts with large orders).

Most customers like the fact that it is more than a text message, and is perceived as a more thoughtful sentiment.  No one will ever have to know it came from a robot!  And it comes in an envelope with a wax seal, a very thoughtful, personal touch, from anybody or a machine.

Ray Myers