Power Off – how a digital detox restores factory settings

“Let’s not turn our phones on tomorrow” I suggested to my wife at the weekend. She agreed and we spent Sunday without them.

As we travel further into this scary journey they call life, it feels like there’s a developing need for us to understand, control and tame our own brain. We might think we’re in control of it, that we power its processes and rhythms, and we decide how to communicate. But increasingly we’re not and we don’t. This is largely thanks to smartphones and all-pervasive technology.

Mental health is broadly gaining more recognition and understanding. From paranoid schizophrenia to regularly feeling sad about everything, it’s a vast spectrum and deeply complex area. We all have a mental landscape of some sort, which influences how we communicate with the world personally and professionally. We all have personal moods and struggles. There are all sorts of ways we might address these: different types of therapy, hypnosis, reading lots of self-help books. My view is that a key one concerns our relationship with technology, primarily our smartphone.

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What That Follower Number Actually Means

We are defined and shaped by numbers. They are ascribed to us and created by us. Age, date of birth, height, weight, income, bank balance, spouses, children, date of death. Temporary or permanent, these digits are all ingredients of our identity. They affect how we are perceived by other people and how we perceive ourselves.

Today our obsession with numbers has taken on mind-bending dimensions thanks to the digital, data-driven age in which everything is measurable. If you have several digits next to the word Followers in a profile, you can be considered A Big Deal on the internet, a success.

For as long as social media has existed, an assumption has been made that bigger digits are ‘better’. The bigger your audience, the higher your recognition from friends and peers, the more popular you are, the greater your chances of success and being discovered, the better exposed your brand, the wider your network, the more likely you can monetise content through advertisers.

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Still Doing Digital – Insights from Cardiff, March 2017

Over two days and two events last week I was given insight into future-thinking, digital integration in the arts and how new technologies will impact our lives.

On the first day I was commissioned to photograph a conference about Digital Innovation in the Arts. As a photographer you are concentrated on getting the best possible images of speakers and the environment, but you can collect nuggets of information here and there.  BBC-led afternoon sessions on VR were genuinely fascinating, and enjoyable to photograph.  While this tech might still be a considerable time away from mass market penetration, on a visceral level it remains really cool.

digital-cardiff-communications

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Automation For The People

A Composed Communication blog on automation technology and the new Amazon Echo device.

Voice recognition is a key part of automation technologies which many knowledgeable tech-heads believe will drive human progress through the next part of this century. It’s said that automation is the big step to intelligently streamlining how we lead our lives.

automation-technology

The new Amazon Echo device.                                                                                © Composed Images

 

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An Introduction To Edtech

Edtech – what’s this emerging technology space all about? An event in Cardiff city centre piqued my interest when it popped up in the Cardiff Start Facebook group, so I registered and went along.

What is Edtech?

Clearly the word Edtech appears to be a marriage of ed-ucation and tech-nology, but what really defines it?

Mark Hawkins / Composed Images.

© Composed Images.

Without doing any googling, it seems widely inclusive and rather vague, somewhat elastic. Couldn’t you argue that ALL technology is educational?

Is it about the organisational nuts and bolts of schools, colleges and universities? Is it about how the education itself is delivered?  Say you have an organisational solution which isn’t being applied in an educational environment currently, but could be. Hey presto, a little wiggling and that can suddenly become Edtech?

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Buying Music In 2016

How buying the new Radiohead album briefly changed my music listening experience.

I hate list questions.  You know: ‘name your top five films, top ten books’ or whatever. But if you pointed a gun to my head and forced to name a favourite band, I’d have to say Radiohead.  (You might then decide to pull the trigger. Your call).

moon-shaped-pool-radiohead

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Old Media: Time To Say Goodbye

There was a guilt-tinged sadness when I placed a bunch of books and CDs in plastic bags destined for charity shops a couple of weekends ago. 

It was like saying goodbye to old friends who’d brought me considerable pleasure during another time; a farewell to old media I was almost surgically attached to for a time.

Now though, the brutal unsentimental truth was that they held no use for me. Not even decorative, they sat neglected on a bottom shelf behind a row of DVDs, collecting dust.
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2016 Turing Lecture – The Internet Of Me, You and Us

schukai-237As now seems to be an annual ritual, last week I headed over to the School of Engineering at Cardiff University for the annual BCS / IET Turing Lecture. This year was the turn of Robert Schukai MBE, Head of Applied Innovation at Thomson Reuters.

The 2016 Turing Lecture was entitled “The Internet of Me: It’s All About My Screens.” It promised a look at how smartphones have revolutionised life, and the information challenge of constantly processing so much data.

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We Need To Talk About Your High Volume Twitter Strategy

physVvirt1Isn’t it funny, how we don’t talk (on Twitter) anymore?.

Over in the US it is said that Twitter is struggling. It failed to add any new users for the second quarter in a row. At the end of September, Twitter had a core audience of 307 million active users, adding just 3 million worldwide during the three months since June. It seems mass market appeal is no longer there.

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Shared risk / shared reward: key to clinical innovation between private and public sectors?

Innov“Emperor’s New Clothes or the Way Forward? The Opportunities & Challenges of Clinical Innovation”. This was 2015’s teaser title for the Cardiff University Innovation Network event, held at the Heath Hospital in Cardiff.

While my professional links with clinical healthcare are limited, I continue to find the subject area compelling. In Wales it’s a perennial political football. Part of my problem in observing and digesting these events might be that I’m hankering for some BBC Question Time style debate, which is never likely to happen.

2013 – Innovation in healthcare
2014 – Dying to talk – an event on Healthcare In Wales

Having attended the previous two related events in 2013 and 2014, my trilogy would be completed with one more trip to north Cardiff, so I went see if this one would unearth anything new for the medical layman.
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