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How to maximize the self-empowerment -- and enlightenment -- you get from your cell phone
reposted from http://thetelcomfuturist.blogspot.com

The Future of Cell Phone Apps

    Okay, there are a million and one apps out there. All potentially empowering to some degree. But how empowering? Well, there are certainly rating systems that will happily tell you the most popular apps, the most widely used.

    But what if folks haven't taken the time to really think through the nature of empowerment? Maybe their idea of "maximally" empowered means the sum total of these apps is that "they allow me to do more in less time." Or: "They allow me to connect with more people in more fun ways more readily." Or: "I can satisfy all my fetishes in one place -- my penchant for game playing; my desire to be the star of my own universe (i.e. Facebook); my need to bleed off gratuitous nervous energy in an unfocused, undisciplined, truly ADHD manner; et al." Or: "I'm stressed that I'm just not good enough to survive the economy another day, and I need the apps which help me with my continuous improvement agenda -- because only by getting better faster than the competition will I ever have a hope and a prayer of outpacing them. Especially when some of them are starting with more smarts, more resources, more political connectedness, and more self-improvement savvy than I have currently." Or: "I have a desperate need to compulsively waste time, while convincing myself I'm actually getting something done. Otherwise the OCD part of me simply will spend too much time fighting off the rational part of me. And cell phones fit the bill better than all the other options out there for procuring that delicate balance of mind and will in perfect synergetic self-destructiveness."

    Needless to say the above list is potentially endless -- for all of us. And not only are we guilty of all of the above, I'm guessing very few of us have taken a step back to ask, okay, is the sum total of this greater empowerment, or less empowerment? And empowerment to do what exactly? Drive myself crazy? Feed my addictive need to never be bored for one second? To never have to ask a deep philosophical question about the nature of life and the meaning of my life -- by keeping myself frenetically "productive" at all times. Forget living in the eye of the tornado -- that sounds way too dull. I want to stay on the periphery where the ride is way more fun!

    Okay, I'm going to ask you to apply a few organizing principles to the prioritizing of your app selection, not to mention your app usage -- how much time you spend utilizing each one.

    I'm going to suggest you FIRST take a very philosophical, and deep look at the nature of empowerment -- and what it means for you. Because if you haven't brought this question to the front and center of your mind, chances are the parts of your brain making these assessments are NOT the ones associated with higher order cognitive thinking. Quite the contrary, they are likely the parts of your brain associated with lower order habitual thinking -- that are married to all that is compulsive and self-destructive about us. The parts that are living in the past with outmoded survival strategies that do not serve us any more.

    And if you're trying to take control of your life with the part of your mind that is outside of your conscious control -- well, do we really need Dr. Dayton to point out the oxymoron here? Or the likely success of putting such a plan into play?

    While the issue of personal empowerment is in the end -- a personal issue -- I want to use this article as a lead in for what I would consider among the ten most important apps out there -- owing to the nature of what constitutes the greatest personal empowerment for each of us -- as I see it.

    I will just discuss one of those apps today. You'll have to check in regularly to see which ones work their way into my top ten. I'm not trying to be manipulative. I honestly haven't thought enough about it myself. Yes, deep thinking is painful -- even for those of us with a penchant for it -- in an age of cell phones and hyperconnectedness. Such an age by definition would seem to cede such authority to the "hive minds" of which we're a part -- of which we're merely one tweaking neuron spasming our messages along from synapse to synapse, moment to moment.



Currently in the # 1 spot:

News Aggregators.

For the android platform, they go by names such as: Buzzbox; News Reader; FeedR News Reader; Geeky Feeds; BlueRSS.

    I won't mention Apple's options, as Steve Jobs hasn't had the sense to send me a free I-pad in hopes of winning me over.

    So have I actually used any of these news aggregators? No.

    I know what you're thinking, "Well, gee, Dayton, that kind of compromises your intellectual integrity. At the very least, your ability to know anything in depth about app readers." There is admittedly some credence to both these arguments.

    But that is the problem with philosophers. Sometimes such concepts have such intellectual elegance, we can't be bothered to check our thinking with "dirty reality." You'll recall Einstein and his penchant for thought experiments for the same reason. "Maybe one of those lower order physicists can tackle proving me correct; because I already know I'm correct. Hence, I have much better uses for my time."

    Well, in my defense, here's a longer version of my thinking...

    First off: What ARE news aggregators? Well, simply put, they study your preference for news articles, the ones you find most empowering, then they scurry about the internet culling news that conforms to your taste preferences. Thus they save you time culling through hundreds, thousands, yay, cagillians of newspapers, magazines, blogs, you name it, which you wouldn't have time for anyway, in search of the needles in the haystacks that are most likely to get a rise out of you. They also review things as "most emailed" articles, and they attempt to catch the buzz of what others are talking about depending on which "others" you tend to take most seriously.

    Okay, putting aside the philosophical downsides of pandering to your petty tastes for now... most of us will agree, finding out what is of greatest importance to us in the world definitely trumps some newscaster's idea of what "important news" is to us. It trumps it on countless levels, but for our purposes today, the point is: It trumps it by a country mile when it comes to the issue of personal empowerment.

    Make no bones about it, the concept of news aggregators IS HUGE. Forget that they're in their nascent stages, and are probably not likely to deliver on the promise of the premise nearly as well as any of us would like. THIS IS THE FUTURE. And it doesn't take Nostradamus to figure out that much. Why? We're all hellishly time crunched. It's ALL about competing for mind-share. And the only way to win a spot in our minds is by empowering us in ways that hundreds of other apps combined couldn't possibly.

    I say "hundred of other apps" because we're not very scientific minded as a rule. So something has to make a HUGE impression on us to win us over. Doing negligibly better at winning us over from the competition from other suitors for mind-share probably isn't going to do it, even if it would to a more sober thinker -- as any gains are worthwhile gains. After all, you have to overcome the learning curve of using the new product, the fact that it might not be as fun, and it might not cater to those hundred and one self-destructive compulsions that REALLY drive us (because people didn't read and properly respond to part one of this article.)

    Why is the concept of News Aggregators so huge? Because remember, we all have different yardsticks for what constitutes personal empowerment.

    I'll make one impassioned plea on this count and leave it at that. Because in the end, we are not all big picture people. We just don't all come at the world that way. But I do. To me, it is vastly more empowering to have an accurate big picture view of what's going on in this hellishly complex world than it is to function in the absence of such a world view. It is more empowering still to expose ourselves to countless such big picture views of the world as forwarded by the best high-level thinkers in the world, and to learn to find synergies, ways in which the thinking of one uber-thinker informs another, learning to sort through the complementary aspects as well as the contrasting viewpoints and the outright contradictions - until we can cobble together our own big picture view of the world that is "more accurate" because it is built on all the others. Yay, I see farther than others, because I've stood on the shoulders of giants...

    While there are many stress relievers out there, many more sold by your favorite pharmaceutical companies, I want to challenge you to try my favorite stress reliever of them all. See if it is not also your favorite stress reliever. At the very least, consider adding it to your survival toolkit, maybe putting it in the number one spot of your top ten survival strategies.

    And maybe now you begin to see why I fancy News Aggregators so. They allow me to float above a sea of information that would otherwise drown me and frustrate my every attempt at big picture thinking. And we haven't even gotten around to discussing the disinformation wars and other Big Brother tactics designed specifically to sabotage your deep thinking and your "big picture" thinking at every turn -- in favor of what they want you to think. (See Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.)

Downsides of News Aggregators:

    As hinted at earlier, be on the alert for filtering news in accordance with your own biases. This is why we have a cagillion publications out there -- all pandering to whatever alternate reality you prefer to buy into. As sick and as deviant as this sounds, I have to admit there are worse things. I personally don't subscribe to ANY reality outside the ones we concoct in our own minds. If you buy into someone else's after all, what are you but a slave to their take on reality? There are as many takes on reality as there are contributors to it. So be a contributor, rather than a consumer. That said...

    I don't have to tell you that viewing the world with blinders on is ultimately the most debilitating and disempowering thing you can do. The great thinkers of the 21st century are Integral Thinkers -- who think across all boundaries synergistically, who refuse to put blinders on. They fly in the face of an age of specialists who settle, in Pink Floyd's words for being "a brick in the wall." Though the task is immensely difficult - they struggle to understand the whole, and how the parts fit together. They remain holistic. And so I would encourage you to chase down these thinkers to absorb from them osmotically what you can about the nature of deep thinking, of big picture thinking, of what it really means to think across boundaries in a productive manner.

    I personally fancy Ken Wilber's 4-quadrant approach. And you could do worse than to put anything by this author at the top of your reading list. But start with A Theory of Everything -- to understand how we can grow our minds in ways that can empower us to make sense of the whole -- in an age where everything would seem to fly in the face of that.

    One final disclaimer: Don't surrender to elitism. Be open to the fact that the giant's whose shoulders you're standing on may be your cleaning lady. Everyone's perspective is worthwhile. And with allowing for a little synchronicity in our lives, we may find the most telling insights about the nature of reality coming from the most unlikely places. I.e. the last line spoken by a soap opera star performing on the tele the instant you think about the value of "big picture" thinking. The study of network dynamics has shown us, moreover, that if we interlink enough "ordinary" people together -- whoever they are -- we come up with something far more extraordinary than any pundit is capable of.

    So remain open as to where your next most impacting insight into the nature of reality is coming from -- I guarantee you it is from where you least expect. Possibly it might even come from a cell phone app.

Until next time...
© Copyright 2011 Dayton Wilder (deanc9999 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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