Are We Alone – Do Computers Byte?: Peggy Orenstein

by Gary Niederhoff on January 4, 2011


Part 4 of Do Computers Byte?, featuring Peggy Orenstein, author and contributing editor to the New York Times Magazine, which is where we found her article

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avatar Steve Bergman September 29, 2011 at 8:15 am

These 2 segments on the “Freedom” software are fascinating.All these people who are signed up for FaceBook, Twitter, ClassMates.com. And set themselves up to get email notification of activity, with a forward to their smart phone. Probably have the “unlimited texting” plan on their smart phones. Probably 2 or 3 email accounts. And then (Shock! Gasp!) they find that they are getting distracted often. The solution? More software, to basically block all the things they’ve signed up for.

Here’s a more sane solution: Just say “No”! Decide how you want your information to come to you. And make the appropriate adjustments. Cancel your Face Book and Twitter accounts. Inform people who you care to interact with of the address of the email account you use. (Perhaps assign a more frivolous list of people to another account. YMMV.)

Do you really need the smart phone? Simple flip phones are a much more convenient form factor. (And all the accidental dials I get from people are from iPhone owners. They don’t even know the call was made. The iPhone is in their pocket when the button gets pushed, and I get a long voicemail listening in on whatever they were doing at the time.)

Tell people to use email instead instead of texting you. Or to call if it is urgent. (Both are far more efficient for their respective requirement realms.)

If you are in line at the supermarket and someone calls, check the caller ID, and it its not absolutely urgent… let it go to voice mail for a few minutes. Call them from the car (before you start driving!).

“Freedom” software is not the answer. It’s a band-aid over the fact that people feel like they’ve got to participate in silly and trivial things or get left behind. They get themselves into solid-state quicksand, and then think they can’t get out.

-Steve Bergman

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