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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
Last year, Google Ventures design partner Jake Knapp published an essay about his “distraction-free iPhone,” which got a fair amount of attention. It started when he realized that Having the ability to check email – and a bajillion other things – any time at all, not just when I’m sitting... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Is this for real? Have we finally reached the point where this is is a thing that happened? Some places have lanes for bicycles, others for motorcycles, but there's a place in mainland China that boasts a different type of lane altogether: one for phone addicts glued to their screens.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Yesterday I had a piece in Slate that talks about robot butlers, human butlers, and the work that butlers actually do— and how different it is from the work that robot butlers claim to be able to automate. Today I read about Alfred, a Boston area startup that is a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Wednesday I was part of a forum at the Getty Center on the future of public space in the digital age. Cosponsored by Zócalo Public Square, it was me, architect Mia Lehrer, and Robert McGinn, an STS professor from Stanford (and with whom I worked ages ago). Zócalo has a... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I spent a couple days last week in Los Angeles. The main reason for the trip was an event at the Getty Center, where I was part of a discussion about the future of public space in the digital age.... Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2014 at Relevant History
We’ve all see the videos of people walking into fountains, falling off piers, or hitting things while walking and texting. In case you haven’t, here’s an example: (The woman later sued the mall.) While these are usually cast as examples of how multitasking is bad, walking while texting turns out... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The latest issue of the Secular Buddhist Association's podcast features an interview with me about contemplative computing, distraction, and other things. I had a good time talking to SBA executive director Ted Meissner. Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This new article in Computers in Human Behavior is really interesting. A research team led by Patricia Greenfield wanted to know "whether increasing opportunities for face-to-face interaction while eliminating the use of screen-based media and communication tools improved nonverbal emotion–cue recognition in preteens.” So they set up this experiment: Fifty-one... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I love this: The Times of London is piping the sound of old-fashioned typewriters into its newsroom. Nearly three decades after Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper publisher revolutionised the industry by moving to Wapping and ending the “hot metal” era, his flagship title has reintroduced the distinctive sound of old Fleet... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
According to an Agence France-Press article that first appeared in the South China Morning Post and was recently reprinted in, of all places, Uganda’s New Vision, Psychiatrists in Singapore are pushing for medical authorities to formally recognise addiction to the Internet and digital devices as a disorder, joining other countries... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The BBC recently had a piece on smartphone stress that’s worth a read. Two things stood out in particular. One is the work of Coventry University professor Christine Grant: "The negative impacts of this 'always on' culture are that your mind is never resting, you're not giving your body time... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Nautilus has a good short piece about research on how we see our future selves. I devoted a couple paragraphs of the book to this subject, so I can recognize a good overview when I see it! Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I’ve had some great book covers (in several languages), but when I saw Marsel van Oosten’s fantastic photograph “Facebook Update,” I thought: That would make an awesome book cover. After all, The Distraction Addiction opens with these words: On the western edge of the ancient city of Kyoto, Japan, on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The Art of Manliness has a guide to taking a tech sabbath on Gawker. The highlights: Kick things off with a whole "Input Deprivation Week.” Choose the timeframe and day that's right for you. Choose the level of tech abstention you're comfortable with. Plan ahead. Know what you'll do. Combine... Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Earth Island Journal editor Jason Mark has a piece in The Atlantic about proposals to make wifi available in national parks and other remote areas, and whether a wired wilderness would be the same place. As "a lover of wild places,” he confesses, "I can’t help but feel a little... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Buddhify recently conducted a survey of its users to find out why they started meditating. Here are the results: Notice anything interesting? Nearly 60% said that they were drawn to meditation because of "anxiety and difficult emotions," or the "stresses of everyday life," while only 2.3% mentioned "digital overload" as... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
When we're faced with a problem, either we solve it or it solves us." (Stephen King, from an interview with Wallace Stroby) Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2014 at Relevant History
Michael Harris’ The End of Absence: Reclaiming what we've lost in a world of constant connection come out this week, and to mark its publication, Penguin is doing something pretty brilliant: sponsoring something they call Analog August. So what is it? Analog August is a way to engineer solitude and... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
If you can reach this Chronicle of Higher Education article on “Things You Should Know Before Publishing a Book," read it. Elizabeth Knoll worked in both academic and trade publishing, and her insights into the editing process, contract negotiations, jacket... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2014 at Relevant History
Michael Harris writes in the Harvard Business Review blog about the hidden productivity hit that comes from being always-on. Being constantly connected and multitasking, he argues, makes us feel like "dedicated, tireless workers,” but in reality, "we’re mostly just getting the small, easy things done.” In other words, "Being busy... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Devorah Heitner, who runs the Raising Digital Natives program in Chicago, has two recent great posts about her workshops with kids. As she explains, I do a lot of classroom work with students about navigating friendships and social interactions in the digital age. My favorites might be 4th and 5th... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Annie Murphy Paul has a piece in Slate on counter-marketing campaigns that reduced teen smoking, and how they could serve as a model to help kids become more skeptical and thoughtful about social media and games. I was unfamiliar with this history, but one of the success stories in efforts... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Earlier this summer my son and I flew out to Colorado, spent a day with my dad and stepmother, then drove across the West. The main “purpose” of the trip was was bring out a car that my dad was... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2014 at Relevant History
I've never been to the Tour de France, but looking over the last few years, the race turns out to have inspired a number of pieces of writing: A 2003 essay on smart mobs and sports; A related piece on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Relevant History
At least that’s the impression I get from this Atlantic piece by David Wheeler, which describes issues facing new clergy that would sound very familiar at the AHA: older pastors are retiring but not being replaced with full-time positions, the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2014 at Relevant History