Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Jun 2019

Connectivity As Wellness

When connectivity is wellness

A few conversations recently about connectivity and what it means to be well had sparked something of a different perspective. Namely, what it means to find wellness when you are connected. Sounds like a wrong shift of perspective to some, but we must realize that for many, to be disconnected will mean Essential death. It’s rather on a scale of connectivity where they will figure out what is too much, what isn’t enough, and what it means to be well.

Borrowing from the ideology behind digital immigrants and natives (see: Howard Reinghold), there’s obviously a difference between those who grew up with connectivity as it evolved and those who grew up with different aspects of it more or less normalized. Much like those who grew up with color TV listened to those who grew up with radio talk about the diminishing of imagination, there’s a similar angle to this discussion. However, we won’t settle on the perceived negative connotations, there’s room for that in other digital humanism discussions. We would be better to ask what wellness looks like.

On the other side of those things techie, there’s been plotting what it means to be connected but not overwhelmed. When wearing connected glasses and ears means “an ability to communicate but not be overdone with media connecting to you.” Or, adding a set of ears and finding the other spectrums of hearing not easily heard as we age. Or, adding a watch for wellness is also adding a human introspection of transactions and rest. In a sense, grafting connected devices and services not for the purpose of being consumed with media/attention, but for the purpose of using it to filter the world so that a humane perspective remains.

Wellness starts to sound more like exercising agency over how and what is connected to. It really is “use these attention-seeking, analytics-invasive” services and devices, but doing so under the lens of “let me stay connected to the parts of the world which matters.” Yes, sometimes that means disconnect, but more often, it means to use the settings, filters, and timers also present in order to lower the volume and tone.

Looked at a bike lock this weekend and wondered why an NFC-enabled lock was not (yet?) invented to make it easier to keep a locked bicycle from being taken. A bicycle being used speaks to being human-powered, and close to your surroundings as you travel. However, solutions for securing a bicycle are either to fold and take it with you, or use a fairly thick and heavy lock to secure it. There’s connectivity on a finger which could solve both of these if we thought about it differently. That differently isn’t to be disconnected (analog, or manual)m but to use connectivity in such a way it causes us to cultivate wellness, rather than disconnect because of fears.

If connectivity were also looked at as wellness, what could your humane-enabled perspective also create? What else would it empower? Why not connect to those outcomes instead of what we’ve been doing to date?