My smart phone, my coach, my tyrant

Smart people – do they not walk more light-heartedly? Unimpeded while being connected to (instead of trapped in) an intelligent network that connects and disseminates. And continues to grow.

Smart people like to share: cars, bikes, photos and dinners held at remarkable locations they like to issue spontaneous invitations to. Sharing creates additional value, makes sense, saves resources, inspires and is contagious. According to the German federal association CarSharing, the number of people sharing cars in Germany in 2015 has grown by 21 percent compared to the previous year. Our everyday-life made easy: forgot to switch off the lights at home? No problem. Assisted systems are controlling lighting, room temperature or the refilling of the fridge. Which in turn spares us the wait at the supermarket’s tills – time saved that can be used for a workout on our intelligent yoga mats.

Even smarter? With the app “Be my eyes” people who are visually impaired can communicate with volunteers, who will read out loud materials such as nameplates on doorbells or text on packaging materials. “TapTapSee” can recognise items on photographs taken with mobile phones and name them. The BabyPhone app allows parents to go get an ice cream at the Italian ice cream parlour around the corner while their offspring is sleeping. Wearables keep track of our heartbeats, the distance we run, calories we use and they remind us to do our workouts or go running.

My smartphone, my coach, my personal, omnipresent consultant, companion, motivator. Is that autonomy? Or heteronomy? “Smart dictatorship” reads the title of sociologist Harald Welzer’s new book. In it, he describes how we willingly give up ourselves and our data; he points out how privacy is abolished and illustrates the “historically unique stunt to enslave oneself in freedom.” He demands that we “create football fields, not free Wi-Fi areas!” A simple case of either or? The German Zukunftsinstitut, an institute researching future trends, published its “Report on the future 2016” (orig.: Zukunftsreport 2016), in which it identifies a trend which indicates that the responsibility for their own thoughts and activities lies firmly with the individual. Known as OMline, this lifestyle trend represents the quest for an “equilibrium of digital possibilities and analogue world, of fellowship and autonomy, of networks and being offline.” One might say it translates the idea of mindfulness into the digital world.

Which leaves just one question: might there be anyone anywhere with a truly positive vision of “big data”?


– a guest post by Gabriele Werner


Gabriele Werner is chief executive/CCO at KOCHAN & PARTNER, one of Germany’s leading CD/CI agencies.

With a degree in design and many years of experience in the area of brand development and CD/CI processes under her belt, she refuses to limit the interpretation of the term “design” to the mere creation of visual appearance and form. “Design is an attitude”, she says and helps companies identify and express their very essence and their subsequent communication measures and visual identity. Her starting point are people as “markets are unimaginable without people”. Werner likes sharing her experience, points of view and methods in seminars and workshops on creative techniques.

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