Analog Coffee Break

  • It's time for a historical look at lost gestures in human society. (Ideally this would be a slide show presentation.) Picture the following sequence: left arm bends at elbow, wrist raises, head turns left and angles downward to connect visually with wrist, a sleeve or cuff is nudged upward on the forearm, a quick glance at a glass face occurs, and the actions reverse themselves to return to a resting state. (Lefties, please imagine the same sequence on the right side of the body.)
  • This was an exercise known as "checking the time". It once occurred with the assistance of a wristwatch. Today, it often involves the retrieval of a mobile phone, and a glance at the time simultaneously provides a check of voicemail, text messages, email, weather, stocks, and headlines.
  • Weary time travelers, today we are taking an analog coffee break. First, turn off your smart phones completely. Take a deep breath and try to remember what the world was like before you received information every moment your eyes were open-or even shut, if your phone wakes you with a message. Try to remember a time when the only conversations you overheard were actual dialogues, instead of the one-sided phone calls carried on with much gusto everywhere today. Now pause for a moment and realize how your mind has settled down substantially and there is a sudden quiet all around you.
  • The new-age self-help industry makes a significant profit on this kind of guided relaxation technique. But there are other margins to be gained in analog coffee breaks. You might have a conversation that leads to a new idea. Heart palpitations may subside. Birds may or may not chirp outside your window.
  • It goes without saying that we are all rushed off our feet, but the next time you get up for a cup of coffee, try leaving your phone on your desk. Sometimes even the worst crisis will resolve itself before you return. (Ever get back to your desk and find a flurry of emails, the last of which is something to the effect of "nevermind, we figure it out"?)
  • Take the opportunity to look around the breakroom for once. There was a time when the bulletin board on the wall was a centralized source of information. Next, gather input from some of the people in the room. Talk to them. Don't "ping" them.
  • Here's where the sales pitch comes in: Ask your fellow team members what they think about the commercial installation products that were introduced last year. Tear out page 8 of this magazine and carry it with you. That's the ballot for the 2008 Systems Contractor News InfoComm Installation Product Awards. Make your selections and visit our website to cast your votes. Voting closes April 30, and we'd sincerely appreciate your input.
  • Hey, you didn't really think you were going to get a peaceful coffee break, did you?
Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.