First, this blog has been revived! The last post before the Nexus 7 Experience was a long time ago. Since then, I have become a Ph.D candidate, transferred from University of Maryland to Carnegie Mellon, and made a web page summarizing some of the work at my recently re-acquired domain. At first I was thinking of moving my blog over to Weebly which is what I used to host the web page. (I decided not to hand-code my web page this time and it was so much faster to get the design I wanted.) I decided to stick with WordPress because I think they do a really good job of distributing posts to a larger audience and I have had a number of useful interactions on their platform.
To inaugurate this second coming, I wanted to mention something more philosophical that has been on my mind lately, and that’s the role of tech and gadgets in our lives. I occasionally post on various social media effusing my excitement on new gadgets or technologies. Are these just my toys? Short answer: YES! I enjoy playing with new tech toys. This being said, I believe it’s important to emphasize a “think first” approach to new technologies. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are great: and new devices can make it that much easier to access all the new news feeds and information. But these feeds can also be thoughtless diversions from valuable human experiences: sharing a great conversation with someone, helping others out, and as someone I know pointed out recently on a private G+ conversation: even doing basic chores like vacuuming (this was in reference to an automatic iRobot cleaner)!
For me, the benefit of new technologies is to inspire users to create and share ideas and enhance the overall experience of learning and growing as human beings. Another benefit is to reduce needless suffering in the world (e.g. lack of shelter, hunger). I appreciate when big companies like Apple and Google focus on enhanced experiences as opposed to introducing just another new technology. For example, the recent Google Plus keynote hinted at this a little when Vic Gundotra gave the example of capturing a special moment with his children. I think we are just scraping the surface here. In the future, when I talk about my experiences with technologies and products, I will try to focus even more on the aspects I mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph.