Tag Archives: blackberry

The Pavlovian Pocket Principle

How do you measure the value of a particular method of communication?

Walking around the other day, I thought about something I am calling the Pavlovian Pocket Principle.

Let’s assume that most of us keep our cellphones in our pants or jacket pocket. When it rings or vibrates, as you reach for your pocket, what are you hoping for?

With my Blackberry, a vibration can mean a few different things: a text, an e-mail, a Facebook notification, a Calendar reminder. And, oh, a phone call too, I guess :-)

When I see it’s a Facebook notification, I shrug. There is a 95 percent chance it is someone I don’t know saying something I don’t care about, and I’m only being notified because I commented on or liked something hours ago. I feel about the same toward a Calendar reminder; I tend to be very on top of my schedule, so the Calendar reminders rarely tell me something I didn’t already know.

When I see it’s e-mail, I’m slightly more excited, but again, there’s a 95% chance it’s just a mailing list and not a unique, just-for-me message from a real person. So I don’t get my hopes up.

When I see a text, though, I get really excited. It feels more real and important. Someone is directly reaching out to me. This demands my attention. Same for a phone call.

Interestingly, I feel almost the same way when I see that I have new tweets — and the way my phone is set up, I don’t even get a vibration for those. I have to check my home screen and see if the red asterisk is there. When I see that red asterisk, even if I just checked Twitter 5 or 10 minutes prior, I get excited. My friends and contacts are out there, and they are potentially saying or doing interesting and relevant things. I want to know what’s going on.

For me, the Pavlovian Pocket Principle is a good indicator of the emotional stock we put in all of our different outposts, and it demonstrates the inverse correlation between emotional value and noise. Oftentimes, when we get pinged by Facebook or our e-mail, it is not for a personal reason. Interestingly, what’s happening on Twitter is not necessarily personal to me, but it is the activity of a group of individuals or entities I have elected to follow, presumably because I have a vested interest in their thoughts and goings-on. And for those one-on-one methods of communication, like texting and voice calls, the emotional value remains high.

Hmm, how should we end this post? Let’s watch a video of They Might Be Giants performing their own Pavlovian ode, “Dinner Bell.”

Photo by muhammad.u/Flickr Creative Commons

Joining the BlackBerry World

I’ve spent the past couple of years essentially counting down the days until my contract was up for renewal and I could get a smartphone. I admit to being hopelessly addicted to connectivity, and as well as my Samsung Sync served me, it could not completely sate my thirst.

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For a while, I thought about the iPhone. Who wouldn’t, really? Heck, with the iPhone 3GS coming out  so recently, the timing would have been perfect. Alas, I am working with both a budget and a penchant for a keypad. So, while I did a cursory examination of other smartphone options (my husband, for instance, loves his Samsung Blackjack, the most recent version of which is the Jack), I had a pretty strong feeling I was going to end up with a Blackberry. And I did – the Curve 8900.

I got my Curve at the AT&T store in Porter Square, where I initially browsed my options last weekend. As excited as I was to get my new phone, I was sad to see my old one go. Part of it is that I usually have some resistance to change, even when the change is for the better. I remember when I got my Sync in June 2007, right before I went to the Cape for a long weekend, and I grumbled the whole weekend about the functionality. But as I stood in the store on Saturday, watching the salesman switch all (well, OK, most) of my data over to my new Curve before he handed me the SIM-less, powered off Sync, I felt a pang of sadness. I won’t lie. After all, my phone is my right-hand man. And I was giving it an honorable discharge.

Any sadness, however, quickly abated as I thought of all the cool new features my Curve would have. One that particularly excited me was the Google Calendar sync, which may remove the last obstacle between me and regular Google Calendar usage. My problem is that I do a lot of my social planning in transit, so a good ol’ day-planner usually does the trick. As awesome as Google Calendar is, there’s been no way to bring it with me — until now. In addition, I would get a more powerful web browser, a better camera, greater ease of tweeting and sharing photos/videos and, of course, a host of delightful time-wasting apps.

When the Curve finally landed in my grimy little paws, it didn’t have a lot of juice left, so I couldn’t play with it that afternoon as much as I would have liked. But after about a couple days’ worth of use, here are my first impressions:

Everyone is everywhere: At my softball game last week, one of my teammate’s roommate showed up, and she had a Curve. I asked her what she thought of it. “It’s great, if you like being connected to everyone you know every second of the day.” I didn’t know exactly what she meant until my phone started buzzing and blinking every time someone e-mailed me, texted me or left a comment on Facebook.

Everyone is everywhere, thrice over: At first, if someone e-mailed me, my “Messages” icon would light up, as well as my Blackberry inbox and my Gmail app. Not to mention my Gmail in my browser that I’ll have to deal with when I get back to my computer. Same goes for Facebook notifications — I’d get them via e-mail, via the Facebook app and then as notifications on Facebook.com. I solved part of the problem by disabling my Gmail and Facebook apps, but I still feel like I’m mowing the lawn twice. I wish there was a better way for Gmail and Facebook to understand that if I see a notification or read an email in one place, it can be mark read in the other. Room for innovation, I guess.

That said, connectivity makes me happy: I like having more information at my fingertips, more ways of reaching people, more opportunities for engagement.

Mmm, shiny: I also, let’s face it, just like having a new toy. I am not a big gadget person, but I do like a good phone. I’m still treating it somewhat like a newborn, being overly cautious and neurotic and curious, but soon, I’m sure, I’ll be beating it up just like I do the rest of my electronics.

I am a n00b: On both Monday and Tuesday mornings, I woke up to find my phone drained of battery power. Since the previous evenings, I had turned it off, this seemed awfully peculiar. Last night, I accidentally left it plugged in, so I’ll have to wait and seee exactly how the battery continues to behave. One thing I have to get used to is how much more of a battery drain smartphones are than standard phones.

Mmmm, apps: My favorite app so far has been UberTwitter, which more or less incorporates every Twitter feature I’ve been dying to have on the go — retweet, reply, viewing Twitpics, viewing @replies, viewing links — heck, even trending topics. The only thing I need to do is figure out how to make it not tell me every time someone sends a tweet. I know I saw that menu option somewhere…

Synced up: So far, the Google Calendar sync has proved to be more of a toy than a life-changer, but time will tell. I added my first event to my calendar via my phone yesterday, so there’s progress.

Overall, I’m pleased. I can’t wait it starts to feel a little less new and alien, because my new phone and me, we’re gonna have a good ol’ time.