Tag Archives: online

Smart Phones: Mindful Phones?

Meg Barker reflects on the possibilities for using smart phones in a mindful way.


Along with my very recent arrival in the world of social networking I have been behind the curve in upgrading to a smart phone. I only managed this last week (one week after my Dad which is indicative of something).

So finally I understand what the ‘smart’ in smartphones is all about. For the uninitiated (or anyone whose taking even longer than me to figure it out) they are about more than just being a computer in your pocket that is able to do more than a mobile (take photos, listen to music, check email, surf the web, tweet, play games, watch movies, read books, get directions, etc.).

A big element of their appeal is that from the basic piece of technology that you receive you can effectively design your own perfect machine, tailored to yourself in every way. Obviously you can download the specific programmes, games and social networking devices that appeal to you, and collect together your favourite photos, movies, etc. But beyond this you can also download apps and widgets (basic software) specific to your individual needs.

For me, the first few days of owning the device has been a process of realising what I would like my phone to do and then finding an app (or managing the settings on an existing app) to make it do that. For example, I thought it’d be useful to sometimes take notes on the phone so went through all the available notepad programmes to find one that suited me. I downloaded an app which flashes different coloured lights when people contact me in different ways (text, voicemail, email, etc.). And I went through the wallpapers and found a one which mimics maple leaves falling on water with remarkable accuracy. In fact I’ve spent more time on poking my phone to create water ripples than anything else so far.

Of course, where previous mobiles were relatively static once you had got them up and running, a smartphone can be a work in progress as you continue to develop it to meet your own changing needs and to draw on developing technologies.

Potentials and limitations

This is not a post about the technological possibilities of smartphones. Obviously as a new user I’m completely unqualified to write such a thing. Rather I wanted to raise a possibility which I haven’t seen many people writing about yet but which seems important from what I’ve heard and observed, and now experienced myself, with smartphones.

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Blogging against the stream

Meg Barker reflects on the ways in which academics might engage with blogs and their potential to open up new possibilities.

New year resolutions

I’m not a believer in new year resolutions: I think they far too easily become another stick to beat ourselves with in a culture where we already excessively monitor ourselves and make unfavourable comparisons.

I do, however, find new year to be a useful time to reflect on my priorities and think about how they shape up in the year ahead. This is probably because – for me – there is more time over the holidays than usual, and seeing the important people in my life over the festive period offers the possibility to bounce ideas off them. It’s useful once in a while to pause and think about what we value and how well that fits with how we’re currently living.

Engaging Online

At the beginning of last year I realised that the online world was passing me by. Despite running an online course at the OU (Counselling: Exploring fear and sadness) I didn’t use the web much myself for anything more than emails and searching for information. I decided to join facebook and twitter and to set up an OU blog to find out what social networking could achieve.

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