Pebble: 14mths later

Something happened recently. Something in my year-long self-experiment with wearables that I did not expect.

Discovering an invisible benefit form the long term usage of wearable tech.

Pebble choices

With all the Apple Watch news of late, it has never been easier to file all smartwatch content away under the umbrella term of ‘wearable tech’.

The man has a point.

Thing is: all Pebbles are wearables, not all wearables are Pebbles.

When I wrote up my ‘Pebble: two weeks later’ thoughts back in January of last year,  I said:

Almost like a mini personal assistant, it fields incoming alerts from my phone so I don’t have to. I choose when I pick my phone up, not the other way around; reminding me that the phone is there for MY convenience NOT everyone else’s.

And that has remained true.

‘Yes but’, my friends said in unison ‘all you’ve done is replace one addiction for another. Instead of looking at your phone every ten minutes, you’re forever checking your watch instead!’ – they had a point.

And I didn’t ignore them.

At the turn of the year, I started experimenting with switching the Pebble to ‘phone calls only’ mode – as in, please only buzz and alert me to incoming phone calls, those people that need to talk to me right now. In the six weeks I’ve been back from SXSW, I’d say that my Pebble has been on Phone Calls Only mode around 90% of the time.

The thin layer that Pebble has placed between my phone and I has thickened and now I no longer have the fear when I haven’t checked, seen, or even been near my phone for anything longer than seven minutes.

I thank Pebble for that.

That’s not to say that I no longer enjoy the benefits that Pebble brings. I can still browse and view the ongoing notifications, I just choose to opt-in to them instead. By that I mean, I scroll to the ‘notifications’ section in the watch and click through/dismiss/reply as and when I remember. It’s a good system.

It’s funny. I guess in the same way that nicotine patches help ween smokers from their addiction, Pebble has taken the form of a mild intervention; helping me simultaneously both remember and realise that my phone is there for my convenience, and not everyone else’s.

As I type this now, my phone is to my side, face down, and on silent. My Pebble is in on ‘Phone Calls Only’ and I haven’t looked at my phone for nearly 300 words. When was the last time you could say the same thing?

These days I find myself ignoring my email inbox for hours, sometimes days. It’s just not important enough. SMSs? I’ll reply when I can. It might be now, it might be in an hour. But it’ll be when I want to, not when my watch told me I should. That change is powerful.

Some of you might read this and think ‘Yeah, I was right all along – wearables are not for me!’ but I don’t think you can genuinely form an opinion on their benefits (short and long term) without trying them for yourself. This recent shift hasn’t changed my opinion of wearable tech – in fact it’s only served to make it more positive. I’ve backed Pebble’s next iteration of the watch (Pebble Time Steel – if you fancy Googling it) on Kickstarter and I’m really looking forward to the next layer of benefits that’ll bring to my life.

My smartwatch helped me crack my smartphone addiction and my life is better for it. Which I guess makes Pebble the equivalent of mobile phone nicotine patch – who knew?



Five things on Friday #63

Things of note for the week ending March 14th, 2014.

If last week was picture heavy, this week is about words. There really are some great reads this week. Starting off with…

1. A normal day in the unusual life of Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton

Esquire sent Tom Chiarella to Montana to meet, interview, and profile Michael Keaton. This is the result. If, like me, you think Keaton is one of the most under-rated actors of our generation, then go read. If not, read it anyway. I wish I could quote from it but I swear I am spoilt for choice. This is one of the best things I’ve read this year. Just. Mental.

“220, 221, whatever it takes”

2. ‘Augmentation’
The United Kingdom lost a big chunk of talent when Will McInnes upped sticks and left the well-respected agency he co-founded behind for the glamour of New York City (and the lofty heights of the rather awesome Brandwatch). The good news is however, weblogs are not bound by geographical restrictions and we’re still all able to keep up with dear Will while he spends his time in the US.

Which is just as well, because if we couldn’t then we would’ve missed this rather excellent musing on what it means to be ‘Augmented’, my favourite quote –

But what is perhaps most interesting and indicative of the way things will go is plugging my [UP] band into my phone and seeing them talk to one another about my movements – me, the fleshy host, hot, stupid and inconsistent; them the cold robotic collectors of data, computing my movements, ‘motivating’ with colourful charts and smiley faces.

Augmentation, by Will McInnes. Go read.

3. Paid, Owned, and Earned Media
I’ve been enjoying the insightful mutterings of Mat Morrison for a fair while now and, although his blog is quite the treasure trove of interesting reading, he occasionally makes a cameo appearance on his employer’s blog, Emerging Spaces.

This post, on paid, owned, and earned media is made up of the slides and scripts from the presentation Mat gave at Social Media Week London, 2013. I’ve only recently come across it and – almost staggeringly in the world of all things social – it hasn’t dated in the six months since it was written.

Even if you’ve only a passing interest in social media, client-side or agency, I can’t recommend this post enough.

4. The Wrestler
When Philip Seymour Hoffman died last month, you couldn’t move for articles trying to dissect the psyche behind one our generations most memorable and talented actors; I tried to read them all. This one ‘Remembering the fights that Hoffman won‘ stood out for me, and you should read it.

5. ‘Dear Internet’
This is from 2009, but I don’t care. Tina Fey is amazing.


Bonus item: I was in The Guardian again this week. Not just a quote this time but my first fully-published article – ‘Beware the Blind Preoccupation with Big Data‘. Aces.