RNZ National – Tech Tuesday with Jesse Mulligan – Ditch the Device

RNZ National – Tech Tuesday with Jesse Mulligan – Ditch the Device

Another Tech Tip Tuesday with Jesse Mulligan at RNZ.

Jesse (00:00): Time for Tech Tuesday and we are joined by Daniel Watson from Vertech IT Services. Kia Ora Daniel.

Daniel Watson (00:07): Hey, hey. How's everything?

Jesse (00:09): Good. Actually, last time we tried to get ahold of you, you disappeared off the face of the earth, which is pretty unusual for a tech guy. Usually we can find some sort of digital footprint.

Daniel Watson (00:19): Yes, yes. And my apologies for that, because it completely slipped my mind. I did have an intention of reaching out and getting in touch from the ship, because I was off on the Spirit of New Zealand, the ship that's run by the Spirit of Adventure Trust.

Jesse (00:33): Wow.

Daniel Watson (00:33): And I was possibly in Tuesday somewhere near the Hole in the Rock near Cape Brett.

Jesse (00:40): Oh, how cool. Man, you're living the dream of a lot of people. What made you do it? And how did you end up on that ship?

Daniel Watson (00:49): I volunteered as a watch assistant on there, which means I look after 10 of the teenagers who are between 16 and 18 on the ship, looking after their pastoral concerns and making sure that they don't do anything like running their fingers through the blocks, or just basically keeping them safe and make sure they're clipped into the rigging, all that kind of stuff. And we help facilitate the program and make sure they get the best out of their time investment there, so.

Jesse (01:13): Awesome. And did you manage to keep a clean sheet? Didn't lose any overboard or anything like that?

Daniel Watson (01:19): No, no. And it was ... And if people recall the weather last week, it was the roughest I've experienced it on the Spirit. Strangely, it did not increase the number of seasick people.

Jesse (01:31): Huh.

Daniel Watson (01:31): But it was impressively rough with three-and-a-half meters swells at one point and-

Jesse (01:31): Oh, my God.

Daniel Watson (01:36): 25, 30 knot gusts coming through. And yeah, that did test them. It was great though. Lots of smiles even though. Yeah, yeah.

Jesse (01:44): Yeah. I was in Northland over that weekend, and it was pretty brisk easterly. So I didn't want to be anywhere near on the sea.

Daniel Watson (01:52): Yeah. Water temperature, 15 degrees Celsius. They had a neat little gadget that they've got on board that every day the trainees drop it into the ocean, and it measures the temperature and the pressure, every five seconds. Pulls up and then it shoots off to a satellite. And then about 15 minutes later, the ship gets an email, and that gives them the precise readings. So it's just one of those little things that they do on the ship to help gather data for various organizations.

Yeah. That was probably the best thing about being onboard that ship is the actual disconnection. The reason why I wasn't thinking of, oh, yeah, Tech Tuesday Tips, is because I was completely absorbed in what we were doing and very engaged with the program that they put on.

Jesse (02:32): Yeah. Presumably they have a no devices policy on that ship.

Daniel Watson (02:36): They do. There's actually ... They're running a campaign currently. Right? I mean, every voyage they take the cell phones, the MP3 players, or iPods away from the kids. They discourage even books and magazines. Right? Anything that's going to take them away from engaging with the other 39 kids that are around them. Right? Because that's where the real juice comes from in these youth development voyages.

Jesse (03:02): Totally, and I would add, not that I'm an expert, but I've got an interview coming up where my expert decries the disappearance of solitude and the value of solitude. Same sort of thing, right? If you lie down in your bunk bed and you've got a magazine, it's a bit different from lying there with your own thoughts and having some time with yourself.

Daniel Watson (03:25): Oh, yeah. I can totally attest to that. Having done Outward Bound and spent the three days on solo. That can be quite enormously confronting. But, yeah. Even on the ship, it's a 10-day voyage, but by day seven, there's usually a scheduled half-a-day of just quiet time. Because frankly, you just need some downtime, because it's very intensely social, and there's not very much personal space aboard the ship, because the trainee accommodation is bunked three high. So there are introverts, and there's plenty of extroverts. Everybody needs some of their own little slack time where they can just be with themselves, either have a bit of a moe or a bit of a think and write in their journal. And it's good to afford that to people.

Jesse (04:08): And so the trust is thinking about how you might apply some of those principles to everyday life.

Daniel Watson (04:14): Absolutely. They're currently running a Ditch the Device campaign. So kind of expanding it outwards out from the ship and the trust to everybody. They're putting out the challenge there to actually maybe give up something like your phone. Or it might not be your phone. It could be your TV or your iPod addiction or whatever is, and just spend a bit more time engaging with the people around you. So there are teams where you can donate money to it on ditchthedevice.org.nz and give it a go yourself. Right? Because it's kind of snuck up on us with the mobile devices, but apparently a quarter of all teenagers spend more than six hours a day on screens outside of their time at school. Right?

Jesse (05:00): That is-

Daniel Watson (05:01): Which is-

Jesse (05:02): Yeah. That's so distressing.

Daniel Watson (05:03): Huge. Well, yeah, it's not ... I mean, I don't think it's distressing, but what are they missing out on? Right? Some of these kids get off the ship-

Jesse (05:10): I spoke to a guy yesterday, he was an expert on dry eye disease, which is one of the problems they get. Anyway, he says he's comfortable with his teenagers using screens to the extent that it doesn't displace other activities, displace things they might be doing. And I would include real connection with real people as one of those things.

Daniel Watson (05:31): Mm, or developing, say, a deep competence. There was a few kids who came upon the ship who were just really great guitar players. Right? Which is so wonderful and awesome when you get to have a chance to maybe ... We went to Smokehouse Bay in Great Barrier, and we built a bonfire and out came the guitar, and they were all having a big old sing-song. Right? And they're pumping out songs from all over the show. And if you don't have people out there who are able to develop their talents or have time to do that, then we all miss out, don't we?

Jesse (06:01): Not to sound like a grumpy old man, but I'll bet, even though they were teenagers, it was the songs from the 1970s and the 1980s that had the best sing-alongs.

Daniel Watson (06:10): Yeah. The Beatles did come out.

Jesse (06:11): Yeah.

Daniel Watson (06:11): Yeah that's true.

Jesse (06:12): Right.

Daniel Watson (06:12): Yeah. Yeah. There was a lot of that. The more modern ones, they can get the chorus, but some of the other stuff is a bit too electronic.

Jesse (06:20): Okay. So that's a cool idea. I quite like the idea of sponsoring somebody to do it, ditchthedevice.org.nz.

Daniel Watson (06:28): Absolutely. That's the one.

Jesse (06:29): Okay. And have you had a different approach to your devices since you've been back on terra firma?

Daniel Watson (06:37): Well, one of the things they tell you when the kids are getting off the ship in the preparation for a departure back into the real world is just to don't take the phone straight away out of your pocket and switch it on. Right? Take a moment to say your goodbyes with the people around you that you've just spent this 10-day voyage with. Kind of disconnect with them in a-

Jesse (07:05): Sign off-

Daniel Watson (07:05): In a loving way, right?

Jesse (07:06): It's a proper sign off.

Daniel Watson (07:07): Yeah. Because what happens is, you can have a great experience like that, and then you just whip out the phone, and you get a blizzard of text messages or notifications come through. And it'd be really sad if they just walked off the ship and then they just kind of ... I wouldn't say it negates it, but there ... Sliding coming off the ship and actually going on, for me, it was going to meet my daughter and went and had some lunch with her, and I just spent time catching up with her and where she had been at for the last 10 days and what's going on in her life. And that was really precious to me.

Jesse (07:43): Well, as soon as you turn your phone back on, there are billions of marketing dollars that have been spent and soaked and working out how to keep you on it. Right? You're up against almost unstoppable forces.

Daniel Watson (07:55): The engagement algorithms.

Jesse (07:57): Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Daniel Watson (07:58): Where they've got many highly paid psychologists who know how to work your monkey brain to keep you clicking and swiping onto the next thing.

Jesse (08:08): Good stuff.

Daniel Watson (08:09): Yeah.

Jesse (08:09): Thank you for giving us that to think about today, Daniel. Nice to have you back on earth, on dry lands, and thanks for your thoughts on Tech Tuesday today.

Daniel Watson (08:19): It's lovely to be back in the warm half of my family.

To see how you can get signed up for this cause to raise some funds go to ditchthedevice.co.nz