I’m wary of smart watches: the nice thing about my phone is that I can gawp at it for hours if I’m at a loose end, but I can also put it in my pocket and ignore it for hours if I’m engaged (as I was, for example, at XOXO over the weekend). The thing that was noticeably absent from Apple’s Watch presentation was any sense of how notifications will really work: I get hundreds of updates a day (emails, tweets, Facebook messages, Slack updates, reminders for this and that, breaking news…) but very few of them are urgent, and I can’t bear the idea of being interrupted by something trivial if I’m head-down in proper work.
Clay Shirky just published an article about asking his students to put their laptops away during his classes, and he comments on the cognitive load of multi-tasking:
People often start multi-tasking because they believe it will help them get more done. Those gains never materialize; instead, efficiency is degraded. However, it provides emotional gratification as a side-effect.
I certainly feel it: the attractive suck of feeling busy while actual busy-ness eludes me. But there’s another part of it which is about my fear of missing something important – not quite FOMO I don’t think – particularly while I’m far from home – and I’m often pulling my phone out just to make sure, at which point I’m inevitably drawn into much more trivial flubbing through my regular app cycle. Blergh.
Anyway, I hope that the Apple Watch takes an absolutely ferocious attitude to notifications, and provides some relief from the ridiculousness, rather than another source of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if the face of your Apple Watch were mainly just for telling the time?