Monthly Archives: July 2015

Technology, My Superhero

# super tech

Heroes, where would we be without them?

Not every hero has a cape, or a super power.  We know this, because over millennium our heroes were depicted in mythology and in rituals without suits of armor. Their one common denominator was in assisting mankind to get along in this journey of life.  A task that continues to be plagued with perils, some self-imposed and others, calamities of nature.

The power then, as it is now, is “Hope”, embossed with faith and sprinkled with self-discovery, that each burden is itself an exercise of endurance. Strengthening not only our muscles, but our resolve that is then carried over from one generation to the next. As if determination and cooperation were progressive strands of DNA, adding meaning and validating life itself.

Our technology has done that, made it sweeter, by adding comforts and lifting us up, literally. Whether we’re in an elevator or on an airplane, technology has been that superhero and established our worthiness.

And our stories, passed along in the oral tradition or in written form help to further the legends. It’s the art of storytelling, embellishing the truth and creating the rite of passage and instilling the hopefulness “if he could do it, then she can too”.

Sitting around a camp fire further connects us with the ominous, while yes there is darkness there is also light.  That we have the ability to create fire. We must be thoughtful and mindful, because there is an inherent weakness to reckless behavior — which too often harms our development and the hero within.

The truth is, human development has not changed from ancient days to this one; not one iota…

So we need our storytelling to focus on other aspects of life, such as love and frailties.   We like our literature, from Chauncer to Shakespeare to depict our better more civilized selves with consequences.   These remain relevant from generation to generation, mostly because heroes aren’t limited by time or the imagination.

But we are.  Time is not our friend.

Lately, I’ve realized how empowering a pair of eyeglasses can be, as time had weakened eyeball muscle and dried tissue.  My once keen eyesight strained to read my printed words, until Whoosh! Technology swooped in!  It did so without prejudice, bias or judgment.

My eyeglasses never once asked my gender, or my age or my race!  They just did the task they were created to do,  that is they assisted me in seeing the world again.   The images weren’t distorted and the outlines weren’t vague.  That’s what technology does!

I’m excited about Wearables and the Internet of Things, they’ll have tremendous power.  Even passé technology, those that came in with great anticipation and petered out, like Googleglass and Segway will have a great come back!

I’m reminded that a superhero doesn’t have to wear a cape, but if it fits..

Times have changed. We live in a world of logos, marketing and branding. There’s no veil that separates the contrasts between poverty and prosperity. No filter to block the wrong from the right, or the ego from overpowering the id.

We need our heroes, flying is highly desirable, but we’ll take walking ones. The every day kind of hero that looks like you, or me or she… Who sits and eats with us. Our heroes can be basketball’s slam dunkers, baseball’s home run sluggers, teachers or marathon runners.  They can be businessmen, religious men, Olympic swimmers, exotic dancers or cancer survivors.  (More of the latter please.)

The point is, we need heroes, because I’m growing old and I can’t fight all these bad guys by myself.

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Filed under Baby boomers, Google Glass, Google Glasses, tech, technology, Wearables, Women

Unplugged: The Power of a Washing Machine

# Tenement Laundry
What would be the fate of tens of thousands of women, if their washing machines were left unplugged? Or what if the washing machine hadn’t been invented?

Having power doesn’t make us powerful. And it seems, if we’re talking about electricity, using it may in fact, lead to us being powerless or nearly so.

Welcome to the digital world, where recharging cellphones and smart devices is as common as opening up a window to let fresh air in. No one looks sideways. In fact, it’s so common and relatable, that our apathy when someone mentions a dead cell battery is genuine.

From mega-watts to the kilo-watts. From our smart-cities to smart-homes. From our smart-devices to our cellphones. We are all bound to electricity. Our factories and businesses are increasing usage, from the “internet of things” to artificial intelligence (AI) to Clouds and virtual servers, all of these use and require, power. And we need more.

And that’s the other side, the flip side, where one is forced to think about life without power. We’d have to rethink our priorities, from lighting to cooling to where we lived. What need would the upper floors of a skyscraper have, if you had to always climb it’s stairs? And what about our washing machines?

Now that would tell quite a compelling story. The gift of time, both given and taken away. Women would return to the status of a laundress, those 19th century women who spent a day washing laundry, their own or someone else’s. Paid or unpaid, the work would be structured around childcare, because it took so long to complete.

Last month I had a little sampler, when my top load washing machine broke in mid-cycle. By mid, I mean once the washing machine filled with water, it broke. Getting the sopping wet sheets and clothes out of the machine was one part of the equation. It became an equation as I realized just how much of a task I had in front of me, when the bucket didn’t work. I transferred the load to a kid’s wagon, and made multiple trips to the upstairs bathroom. Once there, I sat on the edge of the tub wringing water out for what seemed to be days! My fingernails softened and broke, my hands ached and I lost my mind!

Which brings me back to our problem, that is we have power, but we’re not powerful. And it seems we’re getting weaker.

Technology has spoiled us with gadgets and machines that have improved our lives, but they’ve also lulled us into a false sense of security. With a soft hum of joules per second, the amperage of electricity has carried our load for us, but that’s not always going to be an option to keep our gadgets running and our smart devices powered up.

We’re going to have to look at new ways of doing the old things and let’s be clear, unplugging my washing machine is not an option.

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Filed under cellphone, gadget, solarpower, technology, Wearables, Wi-Fi, Women

Storytelling With Emojicons

tech book
Everybody has a story. More often than not, it’s a heart wrenching story of a childhood spent with some form of deprivation. Be it love, money or a social life, it ultimately defines who we become and how we interact with one another.

Memories become the fodder of that story. Weaving in and out, to what we know are our conscious motives up to and including what we discover to be unconscious desires. And at times these are reinforced with a deep-rooted hatred that just like love, can motivate us to great heights, or lower us to the realms of depression.

And I was just thinking… is there an app for that? If not, well there ought to be like a mood ring, Fitbits and Wearable technology should be able to sense how we feel, before we feel it.

Wearables, should aggregate emotions like anger and sullenness. The feelings of hurt and sadness, that we don’t generally wear on our sleeves and are mostly kept hidden. Because American culture has long held a belief that feelings are a sign of weakness, but it’s also data. Data which like blood pressure, diabetes and calorie counts can be tracked; could indicate when a person is in need of a “hug”.

Data processed in a real-time algorithm, might have real-time results. And this might prevent someone from acting out, in some destructive behavior that threatens peace.

We need to read Tell-tale signs and act on, not react to a person who is preparing to do harm to us, or to themselves. In a virtual world, we can’t overlook emotional instability, as we progressively overlook our individuality. Besides how easy is it to smile? That simple kindness might be enough, a hug to save humanity.

These aren’t store brought, and can’t be pawned off to machines.

People need people. We need the warmth and gushiness of loving feelings; feelings of belonging. We’d be wise to realize artificial intelligence can’t duplicate it, this is our human essence. So, while programmed behaviors may mimic our blinking eyes, they can’t tear up and live-stream our emotions.

And Machine-to-Machine (M2M) sensors labeled with Emojicons can’t access our memories, or their power.

It’s what makes being human… human. So how do you share the feeling we get from a childhood memory? of a special drawing, a self-portrait of a stick figure with a big circle for a head? Painstakingly drawn under a thin line of Periwinkle blue that we insisted was the sky? You don’t and we can’t.

This choreographed interplay of our senses– seeing, touching and smelling, gathered information of a moment, defines who we are, by who we become. A memory conjured up in a flash, of a scene drawn from decades earlier… kindergarten class, with kids hunched over blank pieces of paper, select colors from a Crayola crayon box and create masterpeices.

Storytelling is like that, with layers. And from them, we gather the information– the scent of frying bacon as it sizzles, the sight of it as it shrinks and the heat of the frying pan. The recollection of a Sunday morning, when we smelled, heard and hugged our Mum, as we presented her with a Mother’s Day card, that she fawned over. Hugs.

We’re like subjects in a Pavlov experiment, we act in response to memories, feelings and hoped for love. And there’s a long sought after happy-happy-joy-joy feeling one gets from the triple A of society: Approval, Acceptance and Appreciation.

Yes, drawing with more details and guided by our imagination can create a memory through the power of a crayon.

Technology can’t duplicate that, or the moments we feel. technology doesn’t care, unless we add an Emojicon. But science has proven that humans need to be touched and we need hugs.

I suspect we’re going to have to incorporate “People to People” (P2P) teachings in our virtual world. Our stories will make a difference… they must, because shared memories improve and protect life.

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Filed under cellphone, Wearables