What is Contemplative Computing?

The term "contemplative computing" may sound contradictory or complicated, but it's really pretty simple. Information technologies promise to make us smarter and more efficient, but all too often end up being distracting and demanding. Contemplative computing shows how we can use them to be more focused and creative.

Contemplative computing is something you do, not a service you use or a product you consume. It involves deepening your understanding of minds and information technologies work together, becoming more mindful of how you interact with technologies, and discovering ways of using them better.

There's a great Buddhist saying (echoed in virtually every religion) that pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. What the Buddha meant was we all face setbacks, get sick, and lose loved ones; but we can choose how we respond even to these difficult events. Likewise, I argue that in today's high-tech world, connection is inevitable, but distraction is a choice. The purpose of my book is to show you that the choice exists– and if you feel overwhelmed by smartphones and email and social media, how to make different choices.

My book on contemplative computing, The Distraction Addiction, will be published by Little, Brown & Co, and will hit the bookstores in August 2013. Until then, these videos offer the easiest way to get a feel for the whole project.

Contemplative Computing, Lift11, Marseille France, July 2011.

This is an overview of the whole contemplative computing project, and the best 20-minute introduction to what I'm doing. There's also a transcript of the talk available.

Secrets of the Blogging Forest Monks, TEDxYouth@Monterey, November 2011.

This talk is about the issue of digital distraction, and how Buddhist monk bloggers and media entrepreneurs manage to spend hours a day online without suffering the ill effects that the rest of us consider a natural consequence of being online. It's a bit rushed at the end, as I was running low on time.

There are also a couple exercises I did with the audience that might not make a lot of sense on video.

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