Tech: Automated Will Power

Software tries to save you from yourself

Thursday, September 17, 2009

If you've ever sat down to do work on a computer, you know that "productivity" and "access to the internet" frequently fight each other tooth and nail. When you're supposed to be writing a proposal, you're tempted by YouTube highlights of Tom Brady’s game winner against the Buffalo Bills. Or maybe it's new pictures of your friend’s baby shower on Flickr, or your Twitter feed. A number of new software applications try to act as traffic cops, shielding you from distractions. New York Times and Slate writer Farhad Manjoo tells us about some of these productivity tools. We also speak to Tony Wright, who founded a productivity and analytics company that created an application called RescueTime.

Read Farhad Manjoo's article in The New York Times

Find out more about the other applications mentioned on air:


Farhad Manjoo and Tony Wright

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Comments [1]

Julia Hammid

I think your techies need some better basic understanding of human nature and motivation. Simply stopping or blocking the undesired behavior is an impossible task. As they said, we smart humans will always find another way to get what we want. The better avenue to take would be to identify what you want accomplished (work, etc.) and some rewards that are desired (Twittering, cookies, etc.) and set up a system where you accumulate rewards for accomplishing desired tasks... It's a simple strategy that is used in all kinds of arenas already, weight loss, stopping smoking, etc. The real problem is that lots of what we have to do at work is boring, meaningless and just beneath us. These technologies are starting with the premise that there's something wrong with us for wanting to do something more interesting or meaningful. That is the wrong place to start, therefore, no solution will ever work based on that premise... Love your show! Julia

Sep. 17 2009 11:55 AM

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