Public humiliation as self-tracking motivation

I use a low-tech/high-sparkle method for motivating myself to exercise every day. It’s a small calendar hanging inside the bathroom cabinet door on which I post shiny kids’ stickers (the sparklier, the better) on each date that has included at least one hour of exercise.

I find that this self-tracking method is highly effective, particularly since I discovered individual little stickers with peel-off backings, not just the easy-peasey kind you lift off from a whole sheet of stickers. In the direct mail marketing business, my stickers would be called involvement devices (like tokens, peel-offs, stamps and tear-offs) that require a time commitment from potential customers. Marketers know that the more time we spend peeling, tearing or inserting these involvement devices, the more likely we’ll actually be to follow through to subscribe to their magazines or enter their sweepstakes contests.

But I digress. I love seeing an entire calendar page crammed with those shiny sparkles! Rewarding myself with a little sticker for my efforts is positive reinforcement.

Consider, however, these three self-tracking technology helpers that are designed to alter your behaviour not through rewarding you for your efforts, but through shame, humiliation and embarrassment when you screw up: Continue reading

Texting at funerals

Dr. Sherry Turkle is worried.  The MIT prof (and author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less From Each Other) told an interviewer from The Verge recently that one of her main concerns is how to get families to talk to each other at the dinner table – instead of texting. What also concerns her is that young people may think of communication as being a Like button.

“People are texting at funerals! (Only during the boring bits, they protest).  But things worth doing (like grassroots political campaigning) often require boring bits. For good stuff to happen, people need to talk to each other.”  Continue reading

10 tips: Social Media Highway Code for doctors

New technology has often been risky. Consider the 1865 Red Flag Act in the U.K. that required all self-propelled motor vehicles to travel at a maximum of 2 mph in towns, and to carry at least three people – one of whom was required to walk ahead of the vehicle with a red flag to warn pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic.

This caution was necessary because cars were so unfamiliar to the majority of road users – except for those we’d now call the “early adopters” of automotive technology.  When cars were first introduced, there was no shared understanding of the rules of the road (or highway code) to help guide people on how they should behave. And so avoidable accidents happened frequently. Continue reading

The Quantified Self meets The Urban Datasexual

Lately, I’ve been writing about the Quantified Self movement on my other site, Heart Sisters. Usually this mention is merely in passing as I’m exploring what separates the average plugged-in person and the Quantified Selfers’ “worried well” tracking of everything they think, or do, or think about doing.
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Committed (or self-absorbed) Quantified Selfers regularly use their computers, smartphones, electronic gadgets or simply pen and paper to record work, sleep, exercise, diet, mood, sweat, caffeine, memories, social  habits, sexual activity and pretty well anything else that’s trackable in life.  Continue reading

Dr. Sherry Turkle: “I share, therefore I am”

Dr. Sherry Turkle has interviewed countless people about their plugged-in lives. In her most recent TED talk, the MIT professor and author (Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other) observes that being so pervasively plugged into mobile technology not only changes what we do, but can even change who we are. She notes, for example, that people think nothing of texting during corporate board meetings. They shop and browse and update Facebook during classes and presentations. They sleep with their smartphones. People text at funerals.

People even talk about the important new skill, she says, of learning to make eye contact – while texting.  Continue reading

Is your life as awesome as you pretend it is on Facebook?

Before I start, a plea: don’t shoot the messenger. A study* reported in the journal Personality and Individual Differences last month has suggested that there’s a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and the degree to which you qualify as a “socially disruptive” narcissist. Just for the record, in a previous 2010 study on college students, narcissism was explained as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”

Study participants who scored highly on something called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire apparently had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often, and updated their status and profile pictures more frequently. The research comes amid “increasing evidence that self-absorbed young people are becoming increasingly obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.”  I’m just saying . . .   Continue reading