Thursday, March 27, 2008

Back in the Valley

Behold, my favorite hotel breakfast - the grapefruit juice and yogurt/granola/berry parfait provided by the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency. Yes, indeedy, it's a glamorous life I lead ... Tonight, I may even watch TV ... IN BED. Exciting stuff.

I did attend an interesting event last night hosted by the Churchill Club. The panel topic: "Silicon Valley Fights Back Against the (Information) Monster It Created." The conversation reflected the frustration many of us feel in our inability to keep up with the constant barrage of email, IMs, twitters, blogs, meetings and all the distractions that go along with cell phones and Blackberries. At its best, technology makes you feel connected; at its worst, it makes you feel FRIED.

Speakers included: John Poisson, CEO and Founder, Tiny Pictures (he's a pretty big camera phone expert); Ellen Siminoff, Chairman of Efficient Frontier (also a founding exec at Yahoo!); Jonathan Spira, CEO and Chief Analyst, Basex and Tony Wright, Co-founder and CEO of RescueTime. (Poisson and Spira argued quite a bit, so that was great.)The panel was moderated by Matt Richtel, reporter for The New York Times and author of one of my favorite reads, "Hooked." He's a funny guy and kept the conversation lively.

The gist of the conversation was, "Technology - Too much of a good thing?" There was some disagreement about the maturity of human beings and how we are not designed to handle our own obsessions. Also, the generations behind us and how they are wired differently with their ability to multi-task. All admitted that they had to set boundaries with the technology in their lives or the matters of real life - breathing fresh air, loving their children, connecting with their spouse, having real-time conversations - get neglected. (I'm sure if I had a personal life, I would agree.)

I relayed to the group the observations of Dr. Temple Grandin, the lecture I'd attended the previous evening, and was surprised when, after the event, five people approached me with questions about autism and AS.

Overall, it was good to hear true dark confessions of SV types, "Sometimes I check my Blackberry just because everyone else in the room is doing it" and "Staying connected online makes me feel less lonely" was very refreshing. There was also alot of great data about how many technology-based interruptions we deal with on a daily basis and how long it takes to re-focus and subsequently, how much time gets wasted.

Someone even uttered the phrase, "I think the first step is admitting you have a problem ... " to which Matt playfully corrected, "Or rather, I think the first step is admitting you have a modem."

It reminded me of the time Dennis Kneale of Forbes accepted the challenge of The Today Show and went without technology for a week. Or rather, he tried. He eventually broke down in tears and they let him off the hook. It was pathetic. Makes me wonder if we as humans are evolving or if we've just found a new method of distraction.


Kath said...

Kick ass post!

Great discussion topic for the next Denver/Boulder blogger get together where we drink and talk. And drink. Come back soon!

ClizBiz said...

Thanks, Kath. I love the Denver blogging community - so cool and I'm so glad to be included.