About a year ago I read a pair of articles that got me thinking about how much time I spend online and whether I use that time productively…
Coupled with the recent uptick in writing about the Attention Economy, I’ve noticed that there’s a real need for computing environments that help you manage your attention healthily. I don’t mean services that analyse your clickstreams or musical tastes, but tools that simply reflect what I’m doing and helping me make better choices about my behaviour. Reflective Computing perhaps? Some ideas…
- A daily report from my laptop that tells me how I’m spending my time – perhaps by task (email, blogs, surfing), by application or even the ratio of creation to consumption 🙂
- The ability to set personal rules – ‘no work email after 6pm’, ‘only 1 hour of Bloglines a day’ – that help me manage my time better.
- Subtle reminders – perhaps by IM, or Tangible Media – that police my rules and allow me to modify behaviour as circumstances change. Perhaps even suggestions like calling a friend or family member that I haven’t contacted for some time.
Fortunately, there are a few tools beginning to emerge that at least support what I call Clickstop Computing – managing the time spent on various tasks and applications…
- Desktop Subversibles* -several playful applets that record, aggregate and visualise the activities of a group.
- Hoverstop Mouse – vibrates to remind carpal tunnel sufferers to take a break.
- SlimTimer – a web based stopwatch service.
- TimeSprite – tracks how much time you spend in different applications.
There’s a lot of fruitful research and innovation to be had in this area – perhaps oriented around Maeda’s emerging laws of simplicity…
* I remember seeing these at Media Lab Europe in 2003, but not really understanding the significance; they were cute, but actually I think they could be really useful now 🙂