YOLO: Throw Away Your Phone

We only have one life so use it wisely. It feels like a lot of pressure, but maybe we should focus on the small wins like using out mobile phones less. If you’re one of those people with new year’s resolutions than you may want to consider reducing your phone usage to help you achieve your goals. Go ahead and try whatever technique you want to reduce your phone usage as one of them is going to work, of course, it’s worth noting that the act of using your phone isn’t the problem it’s what you are using it for.

The consequences, from a global level, are shocking. As Harris writes: “Never before have a handful of tech designers had such control over the way billions of us think, act and live our lives.”

What’s more, we’ve become so conditioned, thanks to dopamine, to believe that checking our phones is a behavior worth repeating that when we can’t check our phones, we often feel anxious, and start to experience Fomo, the “fear of missing out”. Anxiety is, of course, unpleasant, and so what do we do to alleviate it? We check our phones. And when we do, we encounter a dopamine trigger, which reinforces the idea that checking phones is a behavior worth repeating. And the cycle continues.

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Fairphone – A Phone Built With Social Values

Fairphone is a new phone built in an ethical way using (mostly) ethically sound sources. It’s a reaction to the ongoing problems with electronics manufactures who get minerals from conflict regions (think blood diamonds) and places with no labour protection. Until Fairphone, there was no way to get a phone that didn’t support repressive and violent organizations.

Let’s hope Fairphone catches on! They are already sold out of their first run.

Fairphone, founded by designer Bas van Abel in 2010, is seeking incremental gains. So far the startup has managed to ethically source only tin and tantalum by partnering with NGOs that track supply chains. As for the other 28 minerals, Bleekemolen says, “We don’t have a clue where they come from.” She also notes that the tin and tantalum are only conflict-free, meaning rebel groups don’t have access to profits, but they aren’t necessarily produced with fair labor practices in mind. The goal is to improve sourcing with each new iteration of Fairphone.

Funded almost entirely through crowdsourcing, Fairphone has already received 15,000 orders for its phone, which retails for $440 and will become available in December. The handset looks similar to a Samsung (005930) Galaxy or Apple (AAPL), is unlocked, works with all mobile carriers, and runs on a custom version of Google (GOOG)‘s Android operating system.

Read more at Bloomberg.

Thanks to Dave!

Use Your Smartphone to Advance Science

Smartphones aren’t just for games and checking your email anymore! Today, these mobile devices can be used to better the world around us by helping scientists understand more about it. Thanks to the distribution of mobiles research can be crowd-sourced to provide information that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Below is one of ten ways that you can use your phone to make the world a little better:

5. Inventory your Local Wildlife
The goal of Project NOAH (Networked Organisms and Habitats) is pretty ambitious: “build the go-to platform for documenting all the world’s organisms.” Their app has two modes. “Spottings” lets you take photos of plants and animals you see, categorize and describe them and then submit the data for viewing on NOAH’s website and use by researchers for population and distribution studies.

Don’t know what you’re looking at? Check a box when you submit your photo and other users and scientists can help you identify the species. You can also use the location-based field guides to see other users’ Spottings near your location and learn more about your local wildlife. “Field Missions” let you help out with crowdsourced data collection for specific studies that labs have submitted to NOAH. You might be asked to photograph invasive beetles near your home, or log GPS coordinates when migrating flocks of birds pass over you, and if discovering wildlife and helping scientists isn’t enough motivation, completing missions also earns you cool badges in the app. Project NOAH is available for free for iOS and Android devices

Read the full text here.

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