Essays


Send to Kindle

Will Internet of Things save us from the constant distractions?

The constant distarction

We cooked and froze weeks worth of food before our first baby was born last week, and we have been eating the quick meals between baby's feeding cycle 1. This was a great idea and effort of Yvonne and I contributed some meals. She is a bit of organization freak, and she also had made a spreadsheet to keep track of the meal inventory.

I decided that we want to eat slow-cooked brisket & onions, took it out of the freezer. Now, time to go back to my computer to update the spreadsheet. Done.

What I forgot to do was to put the food container in the microwave to defrost: I was simply distracted by an article posted by a friend on Facebook. Yvonne took the meal left in the kitchen and started the microwave.

The same kind of distractions happen everywhere these days, thanks to the multi purpose devices such as personal computers, tablet computers, smart phones, and smart watches of course. I saw a technical jargon that I did not know, so I read an article on Wikipedia page, in which I found another interesting topic linked from the page I landed. 30 minutes later, I realized that I got so sidetracked from the original task that it took 5 minutes just remember what I was doing.

The irony here is that the same device reduces our productivity by non-stop distraction. That makes me miss old-fashioned single purpose tools.

Web 2.0 let us get a lot of things done on a web browser. So we are distracted. Now "web is dead", and we do things on apps that typically do one thing, or at least tasks are themed by app; however, the devices are still multi-purpose, and the icons 2 are yelling us to tap on them.

Before Web 2.0, before Internet, every tool just did one thing: Typewriters simply composed words, phones for talking, and cameras for pictures. If we wanted to show the pictures to a distant family, we had to print them, put them in the envelope, and mail it. With a smart phone, we can do all of the above in one device that fits in the palm. That is a dramatic productivity gain. The irony here is that the same device reduces our productivity by non-stop distraction. That makes me miss old-fashioned single purpose tools.

I am hoping Internet of Things - physical tools connected to Internet - will solve part of this problem: As I take a food item out of the fridge, the container with a form of wireless tag triggers the update of the our meal inventory. Thus I would not go back to my computer or open a smart phone that would cause a distraction.

Report grammatical errors here


  1. In case you don't know, a new born must be fed 8 to 12 times a day. That is every 2 to 3 hours, non-stop! 

  2. The ones with the red dots are the worst

Original post: March 21, 2015 | Last updated: Oct. 6, 2015

Previous: That poor occupation called engineer
Next: How I separated the usages of Facebook and Twitter
Read more

comments powered by Disqus