Some people see new technology and can’t wait to get their hands on it, no matter what it does. Others see it as useful or not, and nothing more. Then there are those who consider the possible implications of a new gadget or app before deciding whether to adopt it. Kaiwei Tang was confronted by these different philosophies when we joined a startup class focusing on creating new tech.
Given his experience designing phones for Motorola, Nokia and Blackberry, Tang was more than qualified. Yet he thought about technology differently from his teachers and peers. For them, he says, success was about users spending more and more time on their phones, engrossed in the founders’ new apps. But to Tang, who describes apps and phones as ‘tools’, this sounded perverse. Would the maker of a hammer boast about how long his customers spent using it?
By now, Tang’s gripe is solidly mainstream: millions of people feel (and are) addicted to their phones and social media. We worry about checking email during family dinners or about the fact that we spend more time documenting vacations on Instagram than enjoying them. Unlike most of us, though, Tang was in a position to do something about it. He co-founded a company, raised millions of dollars, and released a new product: the Light Phone.
The Light Phone made phone calls. That was it. It couldn’t even text. It was the phone you bought because you wanted to stare at the clouds or notice the flowers blooming when you walked to work. Tang’s target customers were desk workers who downloaded meditation apps and people who paid for digital-detox camps. But other people wanted the Light Phone, too. Tang found himself speaking with parents who sought a stripped-down phone for their young teens – and, in a development that surprised him, members of ultra-Orthodox Jewish families.
To understand this attitude, Alex Mayyasi looks at the tech philosophy of the Amish, who aren’t necessarily anti-tech, but who carefully consider the pros and cons of new technology. -via Damn Interesting
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