This is a story about my passion, why it is important to me.
My oldest son turned 5 this weekend. The cliche really is true, they grow up so fast! I didn’t realize they are already so wise so soon and that raising him is teaching him about the world around us is fun, challenging and scary too sometimes. Teaching them how to behave when we are eating in a restaurant. To watch out before crossing the street. And for example, when playing outside and a stranger asks if you want to have ice cream with them, you don’t just go with them! You need to ask mom or dad first. They really need to learn to get sense of the world.
But nowadays we don’t just need to watch the physical world, there is a whole new world we need to watch too, our digital world. The first time I realized this I was listening to a podcast when my youngest was just born. It was about something they call virtual autism, delay of speech and social communication because too much screen time at a young age. The way we interact with technology can actually change the way our brain develops!! So there I was, sitting on the bus, having my eureka moment for myself! And all of the people around me had now idea why I had such a big grin on my face!!
It was such an eureka moment for me because my career path wasn’t one by the book. After my studies I did a PhD in neuroscience, so I studied the brain a lot! Then I switched to IT, first development, now analysis. I’m actually have an influence now on the next generation of software that is used in schools all around Europe!
Technology is emerging so fast, we didn’t really got time to adjust to it. We don’t know the benefits or danger yet, like the stranger asking to come for ice cream.
This really got me thinking, how is the digital world impacting us? I started reading and learning about it, things like persuasive design, how technology is designed to keep us hooked. I experience this myself too, I love social media for example, connecting to people with the same interest, that I would otherwise never have met. I have severe shiny new toy syndrome: I love new gadgets and tools to work with online. But I also feel the stress of information overload and the feeling of being always on.
So I am focusing on 2 area’s right now.
first of all, how to hack back. How can we manage all our digital devices and unplug and relax. and on the other side benefit from all of the amazing things they have to offer.
second of all, how can we make the technology of the future? Wat is the mindset we need to develop to make software so that humans can flourish. How can we make software more durable, both for us and the planet. So that it really helps us and not captures their attention and craves them wanting more.
So what started as a question how I wanted to raise my kids in this world surrounded with technology. Has grown to a passion to use and make software that really helps us be more human. I don’t know how to do it yet, the vision is still vague. What I do know is that I need to push myself a little to formulate that vision. Get all those feelings into words and combine it with science a little bit. And then be brave enough to tell my stories and become better at telling them. So here I am.