Wearable data rash

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.


It seems to be written by some sort of arts/design person and so is more about the lofty human aspects rather than the device and electronics.
As a result, it’s hard for me to wrap my hacker tech head around.
I like being stretched, so have read it a few times.

Will our skin burn with bubbling boils of data? Will our ears buzz with non-stop notifications? Will our eyes flicker with the alerts streaming across the clothing and accessories of others?

There are so many opportunities in the fact that we can now wear data. But the risk is that it will wear us.

It doesn’t have to be that way, of course. Careful, humane design can give us the benefits of wearing data without allowing information poisoning to seep beyond the screen and into our physical selves.

One other article I read had the lovely term ‘data exhaust’…. This person sort of goes there with ‘bubbling boils of data’… I think I like it.

As the internet of things turns everything—every object, every place, every person—into a potential interface, those interfaces have to be more discerning. They should demand our attention only at truly demanding moments, not at the receipt of every new email. The real luxury of wearing information is not in exposing ourselves to every passing data point but in filtering that data in ways that alert us gently, even subconsciously, to changes in our environment.

Struggling to get my head around this concept.
There are two parts to this, firstly, I get so few emails that I want an alert on my wrist for everyone I get. They are not annoying, they are helpful.
That said, both my bosses have commented about how their wrists almost buzz constantly with alerts because they get so many emails (hundreds a day).
Also battery life on their wearable is a real issue.

My second part to this statement is this idea of ‘changes in our environment’.
Their next statement only sort of helps to get my tiny brain around this;

Cognitive science has a name for this. Pre-attentive processing is the way our brains gather information from the environment when we don’t even realize it. In the flash of an eye and without even a moment of concentration, we detect changes in temperature, in color, in motion, in facial expression. We process these environmental cues subconsciously, without effort, so they don’t compete with or intrude upon the subject of our conscious focus. Contrast that with the concentration it takes to read even a short text message, an activity that requires you to tune out everything else for a few seconds.

I think I am the wrong audience for this article. I just can’t get how this sort of thing might work.
The author refers to the wristwatch, it is just there, ready to be glanced at when needed. The watch does not push its time (data) onto me, but is ready to provide it when I request it.
They state that turning a watch into a smartwatch undoes all this elegance.

Their suggestion is that a watch should simply glow different colors and brightnesses when it needs our attention. As the emails pile up, the watch becomes a brighter red for example.
A single pixel interface. To me, thats just too constrictive.

Here is their closing statement;

Technology should bend to our lives instead of vice versa. Instead of using the cold and creepy terms of enhancement or augmentation, I suggest wearables should aim to amplify our humanity. They should let us be who we already are, only more so. They should give us greater control, mastery, and understanding over our environment and ourselves. They should reinforce connections with the people we love and the places we visit, instead of isolating us under a torrent of data. They should draw us into the world instead of drawing our eyes to a screen.

I throw all this here because I think it matters.
There are many different ways to look at the whole IoT / wearable subject.
My way is not the only way, its not the only right way.
We need to talk and think about this topic and find a way forward that can result in each person using the tech in a way that is comfortable and productive for them.

A single pixel interface is not for me, but that does not mean its wrong.
Lets stop and think and talk about what might work for us, because like it or not IoT is coming.
Don’t just get bulldozed by it, take control, one pixel at a time.