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Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Silicon Valley, California
I study how people and technologies shape each other.
Interests: history of science and technology, emerging technologies, weblogs, silicon valley, futures, contemplative computing, user experience, human-computer interaction, calming computing
Recent Activity
The Guardian reports (with the sardonic twist that seems inevitably to color British reportage on French subjects) that the French unions are negotiating labor agreements that protect worker free time: employers' federations and unions have signed a new, legally binding labour agreement that will require employers to make sure staff... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Contemplative Computing
I’m back in Virginia this weekend, for a memorial for one of my professors, and to see Mom and family. I spent part of my childhood west of Charlottesville, in Stuarts Draft. We lived here for a couple years, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2014 at Relevant History
The folks at Digital Detoxing have announced their new Even Smarter Phone project. I love the appropriation of the smartphone form factor, and the space for a pencil. Clever. Continue reading
Posted Apr 1, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Don’t forget: April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Erin Anderssen shows that newspapers in Canada are still able to write about something other than Rob Ford: she has a long piece in the Toronto Globe and Mail about digital overload: In these information-overloaded days, the game is on, to quote Sherlock, and the prize is our eyeballs. Software... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Though I only just found out (via Ana Díaz-Hernández) that last summer, the German Ministry of Labor, concerned about overworking employees, set new guidelines against non-emergency communications with Ministry employees after hours. This from The Telegraph: Ursula von der Leyen, the labour minister [ed: she was made minister of defense... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The Wall Street Journal reports on a new study of productivity, accessibility, and worker effectiveness: Reading and sending work email on a smartphone late into the evening doesn’t just make it harder to get a decent night’s sleep. New research findings show it also exhausts workers by morning and leaves... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
From a Paris Review interview with Italo Calvino: I could try to improvise but I believe an interview needs to be prepared ahead of time to sound spontaneous. Rarely does an interviewer ask questions you did not expect. I have... Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2014 at Relevant History
Ian Bogost has a terrific essay about how video games are designed to be time-consuming and addictive, and how those qualities translate into revenue and goosed stock prices for company founders and other insiders. if there is something dangerous about videogames now, it’s not the specter of players transforming into... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
“It was viewed as hostile. Or precious. 'Oh, look at us, trying to have mental health.’” So said one the people I interviewed about Digital Sabbaths for my book, The Distraction Addiction. I’ve been reminded of that lament by some recent critiques of the digital detox movement, most recently Casey... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
David Banks, writing in The Society Pages, talks about the rise of “notorious learning:" Notorious learning is the conspicuous consumption of information. It requires admitting ignorance of an important fact, so that the act of learning/consuming may be celebrated. It is always emphatic but can range from righteous anger to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Thanks very much, Neill!
1 reply
One of the odd but cool things about writing a book is seeing it translated into languages you don’t understand. Today my foreign rights editor sent me the cover art for the Spanish edition of my book. It’s pretty cool! There’s also an excellent cover to the Dutch edition. There... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This is an interesting concept, especially in an age when 95% of wearables assume that their job is to make you "better" (that is, more) connected, available, notified, and tracked: the Meaning to Pause bracelet. As the Web site explains, What if you received a gentle reminder several times throughout... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Rachel Mann, a British author, controversial heavy metal rock critic, and rector of St Nicholas's, Burnage, Manchester, has a piece in the Church Times about technology, distraction, and the need for "space to be and to breathe:" Our current fascination with being ever-available, however, strikes me as troubling, and even... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
“Think about it this way: For 4.5 billion years, Earth has been a planet with a day and a night. Since the electric light bulb was invented, we’ve progressively lit up the night, and have gotten rid of it. Now... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2014 at Relevant History
While I finish writing up the notes from my NAIS talk-- I've got deadlines at work, kids' sports practices, and several recent interviews with people who organize digital sabbaths, so it's not as simple a matter as just transcribing what I said in Orlando-- here is a graphic map of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 12, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
For those of you who speak French, there's a recent article in Le nouvel Observateur about mindfulness in Silicon Valley. I'm quoted at the end: "Je suis sceptique à l'idée que les grandes sociétés vont changer, leur modèle de business dépend de l'utilisation toujours plus intense des YouTube et autres... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Since the National Day of Unplugging starts tomorrow, I thought I'd repost this Peter Coyote-narrated short film, Yelp: With Apologies to Allen Ginsberg’s "Howl:" via youtube Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
"'Noise is the most impertinent of all forms of interruption,' groused the nineteenth-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. 'It is not only an interruption, but also a disruption of thought.'" So notes Chloe Schama in her New Republic piece explaining "How Silence Became a Luxury Product." From noise-canceling headphones to the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
[This is the second of several posts drawing on my the talk I gave at the NAIS annual conference. The first is here.] How are technologies designed to distract students (and their parents and teachers)? Some people talk about how the shiny-blinky flashing Internet appeals to our visually-oriented brains, how... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
[This is the first of several posts drawing on my the talk I gave at the NAIS annual conference.] We use the term "distraction" in two broad ways. Both involve situations in which our attention should be directed on one thing, but instead is directed on something else. This usually... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Rules issued in advance of the upcoming National People's Congress, via Quartz: Do not use your phones to send text messages or make phone calls during meeting; do not use your computer or phone to play games.... Representatives are not allowed to use means such as Weibo and Wechat to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 4, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This week my wife and I were at the National Association of Independent Schools annual conference. I was giving a talk on contemplative computing and efforts by schools to promote mindfulness and wiser technology use; my wife was part of her school's delegation. This is the second education-related conference where... Continue reading
Posted Mar 2, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Psychotherapist and minister Nancy Colier asks "Are our devices training us to escape the moment?" The everyday mind, she argues, "wants to narrate our life, to tell the story of what is happening to us," to continually make sense of what we're doing and what's going on around us. One... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2014 at Contemplative Computing