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Digital detoxes aren’t as effective as digital decluttering

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woman relaxingChange your relationship to technology.Flickr/Christian Benseler

  • “Digital decluttering” means taking a break from technology in order to re-evaluate your tech habits and make permanent changes.
  • That’s according to Cal Newport, author of “Digital Minimalism.”
  • Newport says “digital detoxes” aren’t as effective because you simply go cold turkey on tech and jump right back in.

By now it’s almost cliché to proclaim that you’re “addicted” to your smartphone and need a break.

But if you’re thinking about embarking on a “digital detox,” think again. “Digital detox” is a popular term for going a limited period of time without your phone, your computer, your iPad — you get the picture — in an effort to recharge your mental batteries and reconnect with the people and activities that you truly value.

As CNN’s Jeanne Sahadi recently reported, high-powered executives are increasingly flocking to digital-technology-free retreats, where they can spend time outdoors, work out, and meditate.

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In his new book, “Digital Minimalism,” Georgetown University computer science professor Cal Newport explains why these digital detoxes are missing the mark in aiming to treat an obsession with tech. Much like Newport’s previous book, “Deep Work,” the new book makes the case for reducing daily distractions so you have time and attention to work on stuff that matters.

As an alternative to the digital detox, Newport proposes a process he calls “digital decluttering.” Here’s how it works: You designate 30 days to take a break from optional technologies in your life; you use that time to explore and rediscover activities you find meaningful; at the end of the break, you reintroduce optional technologies one by one, carefully evaluating what value it brings and how you’ll use it going forward.

The difference between detoxing and decluttering is that you don’t go cold turkey on tech only to jump right back in; instead, you use the break as a launching point for changing your relationship to tech — permanently.

Think of applying Marie Kondo’s approach to home organization to digital technology. You don’t simply get rid of things and straighten up your home only to fill and mess it up tomorrow; you’re constantly reminding yourself to consider which objects “spark joy.”

Through decluttering, you might learn how over-reliant you are on digital technology

In December 2017, Newport invited people to try digital decluttering and, he writes, over 1,600 signed up. The New York Times published an article about Newport’s experiment, noting that most people who participated said they’d developed new hobbies like painting and writing.

In the book, Newport writes, “People were surprised to learn the degree to which their digital lives had become cluttered with reflexive behaviors and compulsive tics.”

Read more: 9 successful CEOs and entrepreneurs who can go hours — sometimes days — without checking their email or phone

Newport advises prospective digital declutter-ers to replace digital technology use with other activities, in advance of the experiment, or risk descending into anxiety and boredom.

He adds, “You want to arrive at the end of the declutter having rediscovered the type of activities that generate real satisfaction, enabling you to confidently craft a better life — one in which technology serves only a supporting role for more meaningful ends.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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