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Seeing What's in Front of Us
 
If CES is any indication of the year ahead, tech advancements will continue to dazzle and accelerate change around us. On the horizon looms stunningly sharp 8K TVs, phones that fold and intelligent devices that do everything from drive us around, iron our clothes and even tell us when we should pee.

While it all sounds exciting and novel on press day, these advances can numb us if we don't take a break from the connectivity these gadgets make possible. Without careful use, the intelligent age upon us will make us tired, worn out and, well, stupid. 

In his excellent newsletter, Shane Parrish recently shared a fitting interview with Adam Robinson titled How Not to be Stupid, which you can check out in today's Deep Take. The point raised is not about being unintelligent, but rather numbness to reality and the prevalence of mistakes when certain factors are present. Most notably for the context of this newsletter: being overwhelmed, in a rush or overloaded with information. 

The solution? Slow down or disconnect. Not surprisingly, there are many movements and emerging business models intended to help us do so. The links below take a look at a few diverse (and bizarre) examples. 

Welcome to the new year. 

Chris Perry 
Chief Digital Officer, Weber Shandwick
@cperry248
 
If you find this newsletter valuable, I would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up. You can do so by directing them here
 
What We're Reading
Media Forensics
The Growing Business of Helping Customers Slow Down
By Giana M. Eckhardt and Katharina C. Husemann, Harvard Business Review

The constantly increasing rate of technological advancement and social change is speeding up the pace of life, leaving most of us feeling time-poor. How are people coping? Increasingly, by seeking out opportunities to slow down. The slow-go market is in hyper-growth, as evident in meditation apps, yoga and wellness retreats, and the rise of "slow media."

Content Experience
Why it Pays to Declutter your Digital Life
By Kelly Oakes, BBC

Many of us feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of "stuff" in our lives. But physical clutter is not the only culprit causing us stress. Researchers are finding that having too many digital files is also the problem. Decluttering our digital lives could prevent the information overload that results in missing key information. 

Content Experience
The Rise of the Mindful Museum
By Mike Devine, The Baffler
The practice of mindfulness has found its way into the hallowed halls of the art museum. They have capitalized on the growing trend of an enlightened lifestyle by encouraging guests to look at meditation as "necessary" in the same way as art has been framed as essential. But does the museum’s culture of promotion grind against our collective peace of mind?
Content Experience
The "Future Book" is Here, But it's Not What We Expected
By Craig Mod, Wired

Each new medium has been poised to deform the traditional book. But today's Future Book is not exactly the high-tech device that previous generations anticipated. Rather, it takes on the messy form of email, tweets, YouTube videos, mailing lists, crowdfunding campaigns, PDF ti .mobi converters, Amazon warehouses, and more.

Content Experience
Children Are Using Emoji for Digital-Age Language Learning
By Gretchen McCulloch, Wired

Many preliterate kids send emoji-only text messages, and ages three to five seems to be the peak time for them. By exposing kids to the rhythm of electronic conversations, emoji may be a useful precursor to reading—a way of acclimating kids to the digital reality of using symbols to communicate with people they care about.

Artificial Intelligence
Google Assistant Now Comes with a Real-Time Translator for 27 Languages
By Charlotte Jee, MIT Technology Review

Google Assistant's new feature, Interpreter Mode, can translate peoples’ conversations in real time. But there are some kinks — it won’t work if more than one person speaks, and it requires some unnatural gaps in the conversation while it processes. This is one of Google Assistant's new features added over the last year, in addition to making bookings on your behalf and screening spam callers. 

Artificial intelligence
Finland’s Grand AI Experiment
By Janosch Delcker, Politico

Finland's "one percent" AI scheme is a grand experiment that includes tens of thousands of non-technology experts aimed at teaching one percent of the country's population the basic concepts at the root of artificial technology. Government officials hope this increased intelligence will help the country occupy a niche as a world leader in practical applications of AI.

Media Forensics
People Are Paying to Go to Prison in South Korea Because Life Is Too Stressful
By Cailey Rizzo, Travel and Leisure

In South Korea, a decidedly fast-paced, high-tech society, vacations in which burnt out workers spend time in a jail cell, treated like a prisoner, so that they can disconnect and decelerate, have become popular in the past year. This desire to decelerate is a major trend with implications for companies, organizations and society.

Emerging Technology
Breathtaking Drone Imagery Tops Dronestagram’s Annual Photo Awards
By Rich Haridy, New Atlas

Founded in 2013, Dronestagram has been cultivating a thriving community of drone photographers allowing this new photographic aesthetic to flourish. The platform has just revealed the winners of its 5th annual drone photography contest, illustrating the best and most breathtaking aerial images from the past 12 months.

Deep Take
How Not to Be Stupid
By Shane Parrish and Adam Robinson, Farnam Street
Many people think that stupidity is the opposite of intelligence. Rather, stupidity is the cost of intelligence operating in a complex environment. Adam Robinson identifies seven factors that lead to stupidity: 
  1. Being outside your normal environment
  2. Being in the presence of a group
  3. Being in the presence of an expert
  4. Doing a task that requires intense focus
  5. Information overload
  6. Physical or emotional stress
  7. Rushing or a sense of urgency 
Copyright © 2019 Weber Shandwick



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