An article at theatlantic.com
I just read a fascinating interview with Tristan Harris, former Google employee who worked on Google Inbox.
His thesis is simple. Google, Apple and Facebook all want their products to be one that we use. Therefore they have a system of rewards built into their apps that train us to come back again and again. The average smartphone user looks at their device 150 times a day. Each App want’s to grab our attention every time we pick up the phone. Tristan argues that a better product would be one that does what we want it to, not one that manipulates us into using it more.
This video makes the point well.
Is this article he talks about the ethics of the companies who are behind most of the technology we use and how they deliberately manipulate to be addicted to their product. “Never before in history have the decisions of a handful of designers (mostly men, white, living in SF, aged 25–35) working at 3 companies”—Google, Apple, and Facebook—“had so much impact on how millions of people around the world spend their attention … We should feel an enormous responsibility to get this right.”
Best of all he has some good ideas as to how we can take control over our iPhones. Stop unnecessary notifications. Get rid of distractions from your phone’s home screen. “Checking that Facebook friend request will take only a few seconds, we reason, though research shows that when interrupted, people take an average of 25 minutes to return to their original task.”
That itch to glance at our phone is a natural reaction to apps and websites engineered to get us scrolling as frequently as possible.
Read the interview here.
Or catch his TED talk here.
He has started a group called Time Well Spent who are encouraging developers to design apps with the user in mind.