Reid Carlberg

Connected Devices, & Other Adventures

No Watches at the Dinner Table


My wife and I have an important rule at the dinner table: no phones.  Yesterday I tweaked that rule to include watches.
I’ve had the Apple Watch for about a week. I’m not particularly passionate about it yet. I love the Fitbit-like functionality, the heart rate tracker and the push notifications. (Tho this morning forgot to wear the watch, just like I always did with the Fitbit.) I’m neutral about most of the rest of the apps on it so far.

Except the timer. I love the timer. And the astronomy watch face. (Go to the moon, twist the dial, and watch it change phases–super cool!)

Anyway, last night I found myself checking my watch at dinner instead of engaging with my wife and kids. When I realized I was doing it, I took the watch off and put it in the kitchen with my phone.

Dinnertime is pretty important in our house. The kids are young, but we’re all running around, and it’s a good chance for us to interact and talk about our days, share our favorite parts and joke around. We focus. We’re all present. We connect.

I can imagine a time in the not too distant future when I’ll be wondering where my kids are and what amazing (and hopefully non-life threatening) things they’re up to. I’m sure for people who are there today, that special buzz of an inbound message from their child is amazing and it’s worth interrupting whatever else is happening.

By the time I’m ready for that — probably sooner than I think — what device will we all be glued to?  I’ve had a chance to use a lot of the most recent devices. A lot of them promise faster, easier access to the information we crave, a richer view of the real world provided with less effort. But they all still take effort, and as much as they give us, they also take something away.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t dislike the watch. It’s just that it’s another thing, and things demand my attention, which is often the scarcest and most finite resource at my disposal.

(BTW, screenshot above is a push notification sent from a little app I built to test the iOS SDK from the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Pretty sweet that it just pops up. For the curious, here’s a basic demo of sending a push notification.)

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