The promise of digital was supposed to equate to more free time. Instead we are plugged in, tuned out and tired. While some products surely deliver on the free time promise: Amazon saves us time traveling to stores and VOD allows us to watch what we want when we want it, free of commercials, much of the web (Twitter, Facebook, Wiki rabbit holes) cut into our weekly bandwidth – 168 hours in a week. The advent of artificial intelligence and personalization may be creepy but with some behavioral modifications on our part it just may unlock the original promise of the internet.
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- Our Digital Days
168 TOTAL HOURS
-50 hours in front of computer (work and home)
–32.9 hours using phone (sometimes at work and while watching tv)
-17.29 hours watching television
-56 hours sleeping
11.81 hours a week left
Personalization could be our saving grace
What if personalization and artificial intelligence understood you – wholly. Imagine a very near future where the web knew your stressors, strengths and weaknesses. Where your Google searches were tuned to the job you have and project you are working on. Food shopping lists were sent to you on Wednesday with items selected based on past purchases, and selected based on consumption patterns of your family. What if the promise of personalization reduced those 50 hours a week using your computer to 30. What if you made the conscious choice to quit Facebook and repurposed those 4.5 hours a week to your children or exercising? What if free time had no pixels?
It’s not just the lack of time that is reprogramming us and wearing us down it’s also an erosion of our attention. The feeling that we are missing something motivates us to consume more. This reduction in overall happiness is always just a device away.. We consume a great deal of unnecessary information via wiki-holes, social media and Twitter due to the dopamine-loop. Recent reports say we’d be much better off “consuming experiential purchases“.
Do this for me, versus do this to me
Some of us admit to being overwhelmed with information and connectivity. Others are in the dopamine haze – feeling better with every check-in, notification and picture posted. As user experience designers, personalization presents us with a unique opportunity (some may say responsibility) to transcend habit forming check-ins and dopamine rush laden *dings*. We have before us, the ability to use data and personalization to create products that allow users to live their lives less connected and more engaged. As users we’ve been given a second chance to change our relationship with technology. We’ve already let Google “know” us. Now is the time for us to leverage what they know in order to enrich our days versus waste away our hours. Use the tools don’t let the tools use you.