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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
Another fabulous cover, this time for the Korean edition of The Distraction Addiction (coming out later this month with Sigongsa): I haven't had a bad one yet, even though the Dutch, Spanish, and Chinese versions are all quite different from each other. It's been fascinating to see how different artists... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at Contemplative Computing
Guardian contributor Joanna Moorhead has a terrific piece about her Carmelite nun aunt. I was studying journalism in Cardiff, not far from the convent and when we were asked to do an in-depth feature about a way of life that was difficult to penetrate, I didn’t hesitate. I asked the... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Contemplative Computing
Judith Newman has a terrific, touching article in the New York Times about her son’s relationship with Siri: Just how bad a mother am I? I wondered, as I watched my 13-year-old son deep in conversation with Siri. Gus has autism, and Siri, Apple’s “intelligent personal assistant” on the iPhone,... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Contemplative Computing
Jon Evans has a short but well-done piece about “The Internet Of Someone Else’s Things,” in which he argues that the Internet of Things will subtly redefine ownership as we know it. You will no longer own many of the most expensive and sophisticated items you possess. You may think... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Contemplative Computing
You might have seen articles recently on a case of a man with Google Glass addiction. It’s been written about in the Guardian, BBC, Fast Company, io9, and many other places. They all refer (through each other) to an article to be published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. But if... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Contemplative Computing
The Chinese edition of The Distraction Addiction is out! You can order your copies from Locus Publishing, my Taiwanese publisher. There's also this cool promotional video: Taiwan's Commonwealth Magazine ran an excerpt recently, and Google Translate rendered my name as "Fang Soo Positive," which I rather like. That's going to... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Contemplative Computing
Archaeologists trying to establish when our ancestors developed the cognitive and creative abilities we think of as distinctly human have pointed to a series of artifacts dating back some 40,000 years, most notably the cave paintings at Chauvet and Lascaux, as the earliest proof of a level of imagination and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 12, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The Chinese edition of my book is coming out later this month, and there’s a review and excerpt in Taiwan’s Commonwealth Magazine. Since I don’t read Chinese, I have to rely on Google Translate to tell me what they’re saying about my book. Or at least I think it’s my... Continue reading
Posted Oct 11, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
Ohio State communications professor Jesse Fox, whose work I talk about in my book, explains “Why I don’t allow devices in my classes.” If you’re a teacher, you should read the piece now. Fox offers some of the same arguments as Clay Shirky— multitasking is an ineffective way to learn,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 9, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
“I teach theory and practice of social media at NYU, and am an advocate and activist for the free culture movement, so I’m a pretty unlikely candidate for internet censor, but I have just asked the students in my fall seminar to refrain from using laptops, tablets, and phones in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 8, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
The October issue of LA Yoga Magazine has a short piece by me about digital distraction. If you’re not in the Los Angeles area, you can read the issue online. My article starts on p. 44. While the article is good, the photography is outstanding: they actually hired a photographer,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This study is badly needed: There are countless ways of meditating, but the purpose behind them all remains basically the same: more peace, less stress, better concentration, greater self-awareness and better processing of thoughts and feelings. But which of these techniques should a poor stressed-out wretch choose? What does the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
I can only say I wish this project had been completed when I was writing The Distraction Addiction: a three-volume comparative study of meditation in global religions. I did okay without it, but it would have made the brief comparative historical section of the book much richer: Meditation is practiced... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
This is very interesting: a team at the University of Minnesota led by Bin He, a professor of biomedical engineering, has conducted a study measuring the ability of people who have practice “Mind-Body Awareness Training” (that’s meditation or yoga to you and me) to learn how to use brain computer... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2014 at Contemplative Computing
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