April 2017

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Lawrence AmpofoEMAIL INTERVIEWLawrence Ampofo and Ken Sinclair

Dr. Lawrence Ampofo, Director, Digital Mindfulness

Lawrence Ampofo is a thought leader on the impact of digital technologies on humans and society. Lawrence is a political scientist, strategic communications expert, author, trainer and speaker who focuses on the impact of emerging digital technologies on the geopolitical system and global business.

Digital Mindfulness

Digital mindfulness is a name given to describe the harmonious deployment and interaction with digital and digitised environments.

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SinclairWhat is digital mindfulness and why is it important?

Ampofo:  Digital mindfulness is a name given to describe the harmonious deployment and interaction with digital and digitised environments. In this age where billions of hours are spent by people in digitised environments, the choices we make in the ways such digital artefacts are deployed matter to the health, wellbeing, and continued development of the person and the organisation more generally.

It is important because in this constantly shifting digital landscape, the popular mantra by corporate executives and industry experts is to innovate quickly, be as connected as possible and prepare for a hyperconnected future soon where automation will absorb the jobs of most people. This mindset has enormous implications for the continued development of businesses and on the potential flourishing of human beings. Distracted and overwhelmed humans constantly forced to update and adopt new technologies miss the opportunity to understand the best way for technology to optimise the quality of their lives. The growing digital mindfulness community of scientists, researchers, designers, technologists and more understand the challenges facing the digitised public today and that designing for our digital present will yield human and business success in the short, medium and long-term future

SinclairHow should executives think about digital deployment in an age of distraction and BYOD.

Ampofo:  The best way to think about digital deployment in this age of distraction is to first consider the intention of the people within the business. What are they trying to achieve? How will they best flourish as human beings? How can each digital tool they come into contact with help them achieve this goal? It is important to remember here that the aim isn’t to focus on metrics of success that place efficiency over and above everything else. Rather, the essence of contemporary digital deployment is to strongly consider what technology would enable the flourishing of human beings.

SinclairSo is the solution to digital distraction less technology?

Ampofo:  Absolutely not. We don't need less apps or technology, but we need to change the fundamental design for the ways digital devices and environments orchestrate the interactions between us and the things that want our time and attention. Today we all live and work in the Attention Economy 24/7 and we won't fix the problem by telling people to disconnect from the web, or to constantly innovate.  We try and fix the problem by intelligently design systems, software, hardware and spaces to live well in this present hyperconnected moment.

Sinclair How do we know when we are being digitally mindful?

Ampofo:  One way to affect this change is to ask yourself the following questions which will get you to think more deeply about how you engage with technology.

SinclairWho is ultimately responsible for the time we spend with digital devices?

Ampofo:  Many people think our devices are neutral and it's up to us to choose how to use them. But that's not true at all. Attention companies (like Snapchat, Facebook or Netflix) don't design their products to be neutral. They spend millions of dollars on specific engineering teams, called growth hackers, whose job is to invent new ways to hook us into spending more time. Every time we try to maintain self-control, we forget that there are hundreds of people on the other side of the screen whose job is to break it down for their own purposes. With digital mindfulness, we turn that on its head to empower the flourishing of human beings, particularly as we hurtle towards the age of automation.


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