Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Web Secret 489: 5 online counseling platforms

Thank you Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, CEO of Apex LLC for writing an exhaustive review of online counseling platforms in a recent blog post.

Valerie advises clinicians to evaluate 5 key factors when making a decision about which to use:

1. Security/HIPAA Compliance
2. Price
3. Accessibility
4. Scheduling
5. Payment Options

Here is my edited version of her recommendations:

Breakthrough has an app for clinicians to use to schedule, check messages, and for clients to search for counselors. They will verify insurance benefits when clients sign up and verify payment. They will even file the insurance for you and pay you the contracted rate. Breakthrough allows you to send secure messages to clients, upload documents to them, and notify you when a client has completed pre-session assessments and is online and ready for the counseling session to begin. Breakthrough also has pre-assessments that can be given to clients prior to each session, specific paperwork/informed consents specific to online counseling, and a form to use to document your session. They charge $6.00 per usage and are HIPAA compliant. They provide great IT support.

Clocktree is a HIPAA compliant online platform that does not require you to download any additional software. They have an app that you can download on any type of mobile device to conduct online services using phone, tablet, or computer. They provide scheduling and send you reminders via email and text the day before, as well as intermittent reminders the day of a session via text and email. You are able to send and receive secure messages. You can also schedule up to 10 hours of video per month, free of charge. There is no membership cost for clients to use Clocktree.

BetterHelp - is an online, HIPAA compliant platform that doesn't require any additional downloads. They provide a free trial service and a mobile app. They provide secure and encrypted messaging between you and the client. However they do not accept insurance. Clients are charged a membership fee. They have a scheduling platform, however, it is unclear if they give you the capability to document or write notes following sessions.

I-Couch is an online therapy platform much like Clocktree, except they charge a monthly fee of $40. However, this money go far. It provides you with features such as a website, invoicing/credit card payments, a forms library, and the ability to conduct groups. It also provides other common features such as secure messaging, online client portal with scheduling, and secure, HIPAA compliant video. This platform doesn't require any additional downloads and can be used on just about any browser, however, they do not have a mobile app. They provide a 14 day free trial.

Thera-Link - is a great HIPAA compliant, secure, online counseling platform, however, it is costly. $30 a month allows you to conduct a max of 5 session. Unlimited starts out at $45/month. It is unique in providing a virtual waiting room! You create an avatar, select music, and voila, instant online waiting room! It's a robust online platform service that provides options for group counseling, scheduling, email notifications, secure messaging, ability to use on phone/tablet as well as computer, a mobile app, and the ability to accept payments of your choosing.

As always, I urge anyone interested in providing video counseling to become a Certified Cyber Therapist through the Online Therapy Institute.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Web Secret 488: glassdoor.com

Are you looking for a job?

I remember looking for my first job about 300 years ago.

It involved looking at the New York Times "help wanted" section. Circling the jobs I was interested with a highlighter, then cutting them out with a scissors and pasting them in a notebook so I could remember which ones I had applied to.

Then typing a cover letter and a resume and mailing it out. In an envelope. With a stamp.

Then waiting for a phone call.

If you were lucky, you had an answering machine - a clunky device with a cassette tape.

Enough reminiscing.

It's 2017 and you have glassdoor.

In 2008, Glassdoor launched itself as a site that “collects company reviews and real salaries from employees of large companies and displays them anonymously for all members to see.”

If you weren't in the job market, it was fun to read the disgruntled eviscerating an assortment of Fortune 500 corporations.

If you were job hunting, it was useful to get a sense of these big companies.

That was then.

Today, Glassdoor has evolved into one stop shopping for employment seekers - it not only provides reviews, but salary information, interview tip, and a job board.

Good luck!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Web Secret 487: context

As I write this post, New York City pauses to observe a moment of silence in remembrance of 9/11.

16 years have passed.

I struggle to remember what the world was like in 2001.

What the Internet was like.

I come across a fascinating article "What Online Internet Websites Looked Like in 2001" which helps me remember that:

In 2001, the majority of Americans didn't have the Internet.

Most people got online using dial up connections.

Only 7% of Internet users worldwide had broadband.

Most things purchased online were paid for by money order...

If you got any news on the phone, it was probably because you were using it to talk to someone. Assuming you had a cell phone - only 45% of Americans had one.

No social media. No instant, updated every second, news.

No context.

Context: the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.

Easier, because you were only aware of what was right in front of you.

In 2001, you probably lived your life not that differently than you had 16 years earlier, in 1985.

Here, in 2017, everything has changed and my life is nothing like it was in 2001.

I telecommute - made possible by a laptop and high speed connectivity.

I shop online - rarely in a store.

I read books on my iPad.

I almost never use snail mail.

And unless I turn off every device I own - a rare event during my waking hours - it feels like I am connected to the world.

So while I listen to the 9/11 ceremony on my TV, videos of hurricane Irma stream across my screen.

News from Europe is texted to me by a friend in Switzerland.

Somewhere there are disasters, destruction and death on a large scale.

Here the sun is shining and it's New York Fashion Week. I can stream it if I want.

I wonder how it is possible to live a moral life in 2017.

If I know everything...

...Shouldn't I be on the barricades somewhere, saving someone?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Web Secret 486: TouchNote

In the prescient science fiction movie "Her," set in a near future, the main character works as a professional writer, composing letters for people who are unable to write letters of a personal nature.

This makes perfect sense. Consider that as early as 1982, futurist John Naisbitt coined the expression "High tech, high touch" in his book Megatrends.

He theorized that in a world of technology, people will long for personal, human contact.

So when was the last time you wrote a postcard?

It used to be "de rigueur" to send a postcard from abroad, when vacationing.

Children looked forward to getting these cards for their scenic panoramas and exotic stamps.

I haven't sent a postcard in years. But all that might change because of a new app "TouchNote."

Mailing a postcard is easy because all you do is:

1. select an image from your photos
2. write a caption
3. add an address from your contacts
4. press send.

Postage is free and the whole thing will set you back $2.99.

The more postcards you send, the less it costs.

Applause.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Web Secet 485: the computational universe

It's 7:30 am during the week.

I am: 
1. drinking a double espresso
2. solving the NY Times crossword puzzle
3. eating a bowl of cereal.  

Not being a morning person, I am somewhat comatose. In contrast, at that same time, my son Eric is in alert mode. He likes to invade my personal space to lecture me about the topics he finds interesting: science, tech and economics. It is not sufficient for me to nod my head. He expects me to understand what he is talking about.

A few months ago, he told me about the computational universe and a guy called Stephen Wolfram.

This time, I realized I had to shake myself out of my torpor and pay attention.

So should you.

Meet Stephen Wolfram.

Stephen is very, very smart. He is a theoretical physicist, a computer scientist and a mathematician.

And he was the youngest person at age 21 to ever win a MacArthur Genius Award.

Wolfram’s scientific work involves the development of a major new approach to science, in which nature is described in terms of simple computer programs rather than traditional mathematical equations. His work provides new foundations for examining a range of fundamental questions in physics, biology, computer science, mathematics, and other areas.

I know, it gives me a headache. But we must plow on, because this is important folks.

It was previously thought that describing something as complex as the universe would require very complex mathematical proofs.

But Wolfram discovered that profoundly complex systems can be generated by very simple programs.

Here is one of his most important discoveries - he calls it Rule 30.



I'll let him explain:

"Look at each cell and its right hand neighbor. If both of these are white, then take the new color of the cell to be whatever the previous color its left-hand neighbor was. Otherwise, take the new color to be the opposite of that.

The picture shows what happens when one starts with just one black cell and then applies the rule over and over again. And what one sees is something startling - and probably the single most surprising scientific discovery I have ever made. Rather than getting a simple regular pattern as we might expect, the cellular automation instead produces a pattern that seems extremely irregular and complex."


So class, to summarize Rule 30:

1. though the rules are simple

2. and though it starts from a very simple condition - black and white squares

3. the behavior produced is very complex.

This is what is produced after repeating the rule hundreds of times:



Wolfram believes this basic phenomenon is ultimately responsible for most of the complexity we see in nature.

In other words, if we really want to understand nature’s complexity, we need to go beyond mathematics with all its complicated equations and symbols.

Instead we should be embracing “a new kind of science” – as Wolfram titled his book – in which the answers to science’s most difficult problems lie in simple computer programs.

Implication?

We should be able to use simple programs to decipher the wonders of the universe.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Web Secret 484: Chatbots

When James Vlahos found out his father had terminal cancer, he decided to use cutting edge technology to preserve his memory in the form of a chatbot.

A chatbot, in case the definition has slipped your mind, is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods.

Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner.

In a moving article in Wired magazine, A son's race to give his dying father artificial immortality, Vlahos describes his quest to create a chatbot that captures the spirit of his dad.

He decides to use software produced by PullString, a computer conversation company founded by alums of Pixar, to accomplish this.

He examines the morality of creating his Dadbot, even wondering, "In dark moments, I worry that I’ve invested hundreds of hours creating something that nobody, maybe not even I, will ultimately want."

He learns the limitations his Dadbot. And that teams of scientists are trying to win Amazon’s inaugural Alexa Prize, a $2.5 million payout to the competitors who come closest to the goal of building “a socialbot that can converse coherently and engagingly with humans on popular topics for 20 minutes.

After his father dies, Vlahos considers his accomplishment:

"The bot of the future...will be able to know the details of a person’s life far more robustly than my current creation does. It will converse in extended...exchanges, remembering what has been said and projecting where the conversation might be headed. The bot will mathematically model signature linguistic patterns and personality traits, allowing it not only to reproduce what a person has already said but also to generate new utterances. The bot... will even be emotionally perceptive."

He wonders, "Would I even want to talk to a perfected Dadbot? I think so, but I am far from sure."

In the end, when his young son asks to use the Dadbot, he concludes that the value of what he has created lies in preserving his father's memory for his descendants.

What say you, iWebU readers?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Web Secret 483: MyTreatmentLender.com

Last month a representative from a large substance misuse treatment facility came to the headquarters of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association - my day job.

She told us that most people think their health insurance companies cover treatment - only to find that they cannot afford even the co-pays.

Fortunately, they had had great success in referring patients and their families to a company I had never heard about.

MyTreatmentLender.com.

They are the only recovery-based behavioral healthcare lending company in the country, providing low interest loans for behavioral health, substance abuse and/or eating disorder treatment. They help cover the cost of co-pays, high deductibles, or the entire stay.

They make it as easy as possible to apply for a loan. Potential clients answer a few simple questions and are approved instantly. The money is wired into their accounts the next business day and sometimes, that very same day.

I thought you should know.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Web Secret 482: iGen

I'm not going to lie - I am having blogging fatigue.

I find myself thinking more and more about stopping iWebU.

And writing a blog about beauty and fashion. Something frivolous and evanescent.

And then one of my admirers sent me an article from The Atlantic: "Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?" and I was galvanized all over again.

Jean M. Twenge's article is so important that I am going to summarize her findings here.

First off, you should know that Ms. Twenge is a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of Generation Me and iGen.

Twenge has been researching generational differences for 25 years. She writes: "Typically, the characteristics that come to define a generation appear gradually, and along a continuum. Beliefs and behaviors that were already rising simply continue to do so...

However, around 2012, she noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states, "...many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear." In all her analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—she had never seen anything like it.

She asked herself, "What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? [I realized]...it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent."

She identifiest iGen as "...a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media... Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the Internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t...at hand at all times... iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010..."

She believes "...the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans."

It's not all bad: "...today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, [have] less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors...The teen birth rate hit an all-time low in 2016, down 67 percent since its modern peak, in 1991."

"Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades."

"The allure of independence, so powerful to previous generations, holds less sway over today’s teens, who are less likely to leave the house without their parents. The shift is stunning: 12th-graders in 2015 were going out less often than eighth-graders did as recently as 2009.

Today’s teens are also less likely to date...only 56 percent of high-school seniors in 2015 went out on dates; for Boomers and Gen Xers, the number was about 85 percent.

The decline in dating tracks with a decline in sexual activity. The drop is the sharpest for ninth-graders, among whom the number of sexually active teens has been cut by almost 40 percent since 1991. The average teen now has had sex for the first time by the spring of 11th grade, a full year later than the average Gen Xer.

Nearly all Boomer high-school students had their driver’s license by the spring of their senior year; more than one in four teens today still lack one at the end of high school...In conversation after conversation, teens described getting their license as something to be nagged into by their parents—a notion that would have been unthinkable to previous generations.

Beginning with Millennials and continuing with iGen, adolescence is contracting again—but only because its onset is being delayed. Across a range of behaviors—drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised— 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds. Childhood now stretches well into high school.

Why are today’s teens waiting longer to take on both the responsibilities and the pleasures of adulthood? ...iGen teens have more leisure time than Gen X teens did, not less.

...So what are they doing with all that time? They are on their phone, in their room, alone and often distressed.

The number of teens who get together with their friends nearly every day dropped by more than 40 percent from 2000 to 2015; the decline has been especially steep recently. It’s not only a matter of fewer kids partying; fewer kids are spending time simply hanging out.

You might expect that teens spend so much time in these new spaces because it makes them happy, but most data suggest that it does not. The Monitoring the Future survey, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and designed to be nationally representative, has asked 12th-graders more than 1,000 questions every year since 1975 and queried eighth- and 10th-graders since 1991.

The survey asks teens how happy they are and also how much of their leisure time they spend on various activities, including nonscreen activities such as in-person social interaction and exercise, and, in recent years, screen activities such as using social media, texting, and browsing the web. The results could not be clearer: Teens who spend more time than average on screen activities are more likely to be unhappy, and those who spend more time than average on nonscreen activities are more likely to be happy.

There’s not a single exception.

The portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation.

One piece of data that indirectly but stunningly captures kids’ growing isolation, for good and for bad: Since 2007, the homicide rate among teens has declined, but the suicide rate has increased. As teens have started spending less time together, they have become less likely to kill one another, and more likely to kill themselves. In 2011, for the first time in 24 years, the teen suicide rate was higher than the teen homicide rate.

What’s the connection between smartphones and the apparent psychological distress this generation is experiencing? ...social media ... exacerbate the age-old teen concern about being left out...

This trend has been especially steep among girls. Forty-eight percent more girls said they often felt left out in 2015 than in 2010... ...Social media levy a psychic tax on the teen doing the posting as well, as she anxiously awaits the affirmation of comments and likes.

These more dire consequences for teenage girls could also be rooted in the fact that they’re more likely to experience cyberbullying...Social media give middle- and high-school girls a platform on which to carry out the style of aggression they favor, ostracizing and excluding other girls around the clock.

iGeners sleep with their phones.. They check.. social media right before they go to sleep, and reach for their phone as soon as they wake up in the morning...

The smartphone is also cutting into teens’ sleep...Fifty-seven percent more teens were sleep deprived in 2015 than in 1991.

The correlation between depression and smartphone use is strong enough to suggest that more parents should be telling their kids to put down their phone.

This will be challenging - Twenge notes "I’ve observed my toddler, barely old enough to walk, confidently swiping her way through an iPad."

Twenge concludes her article on a somewhat optimistic note: "I saw hopeful signs that kids themselves are beginning to link some of their troubles to their ever-present phone."

I wasn't convinced.

This is something all of us, every generation, is going to have to think about and address.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Web Secret 481: Ti Arto Titanium Pen

I have a thing for pens.

I have blogged about this before - on several different occasions.

So if you don't share my addiction, skip this post.

Before, when I wrote "pens," I only meant fountain pens.

With a broad, preferably double broad nib.

Until now.

Hello Big Idea Design's Ti Arto Titanium Pen.

What's special about the Ti Arto?

Be still my heart - it accepts 200 different kinds of refills!

I know.

That's amazing.

Because, I can fit it with a Zebra LH 1.6 mm ballpoint pen refill. A broad, very broad point.

As I wrote in my review for Jet Pens:

Here's what you do:
1. take the pen apart
2. throw out the refill that comes with the pen
3. load pen with Zebra LH-1.6 Ballpoint Pen Refill - 1.6 mm
4. Freak out at how cool this pen is and how smooth it writes.


'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Web Secret 480: Beautycounter

 iWebU has a new look! Hope you like it!

This is a public service announcement.

Are you a person?

Do you:

1. Use makeup?
2. Wash your face?
3. Wash your body?

If you answered "YES" to any of these questions, then you need to know a dirty little secret:

When it comes to the personal care industry, US companies are allowed to use harmful ingredients and make their own judgments about safety.

Whaat?

In the European Union 1,400 chemicals are banned or restricted in personal care products. The United States has only partially banned 30 to date.

I wonder who benefits from this lack of regulation...

But I digress.

Lucky for us, Gregg Renfrew was horrified by this discovery and started Beautycounter, a line of bath, hair, beauty and skin care products that promises to never use products that are toxic.

Cue the video:


You can buy the products online, or with the help of my wonderful consultant Karen Duncan.

She can be contacted at karen@kldnyc.com.

If you are fortunate enough to live in the New York tri-state area, she will even make a house call.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Web Secret 479.5: Please update your account to enable third party hosting

Dear iWebU fans:

With zero notice, Photobucket announced via a spam like image and text (that appears at the bottom of my blog posts) that it wants thousands of bloggers to pay them $399 a year to host their photos.

Because I have been writing this blog since 2008 and have written close to 500 posts, it is physically impossible for me to fix every image on every post.

I am still working on a fix, but in the mean time, sincere apologies for the problem.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Web Secret 479: PsyberGuide

There are hundreds of mental health apps and wearables out there, promising help for everything from anxiety to depression to more.

How do you know if they work?

You turn to an amazing resource, PsyberGuide.com.

Here is their manifesto:

"PsyberGuide is a non-profit website dedicated to consumers seeking to make responsible and informed decisions about computer and device-assisted therapies for mental illnesses.

PsyberGuide is also intended for professionals and researchers seeking to enhance their knowledge in this area.

PsyberGuide's goal is to provide accurate and reliable information about software designed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety disorders. PsyberGuide is committed to ensuring that this information is available to all, and that it is free of preference, bias, or endorsement."

PsyberGuide is a project of The One Mind Institute, a leading non-profit organization devoted to funding cures for brain illnesses." And a remarkable organization in and of itself.

If you go to their "Product Listing," you will note that each app is listed along with a PsyberGuide rating that corresponds to the amount of research and support backing the product. In addition, there is an App Quality Score on a scale of 1 to 5. Finally, there is a link to an expert review - if one exists.

How is that for thorough evidenced based vetting?

The founder of PsyberGuide, Stephen Schueller, PhD, is a member of the Internet World Health Research Center, a remarkable institution whose mission is to harness the power of technology to reach those most in need with effective interventions that can be administered via the Internet or via a mobile device.

Their goals are:
  • To contribute to the reduction of global health disparities
  • To develop evidence-based self-help Internet and mobile-based interventions and to make them available to anyone around the world at no cost
  • To conduct innovative eHealth and mHealth research.
I'm already feeling better.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Web Secret 478: The Typewriter Insurgency

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

So right this minute, and just for the hell of it, half of me wants to throw my laptop out the window and join the "Typewriter Insurgency."

You see, back in 2012, Richard Polt decided he was fed up with our digital world, and he wrote a brief manifesto in his blog:

"We assert our right to resist the Paradigm, to rebel against the Information Regime, to escape the Data Stream.

We strike a blow for self-reliance, privacy and coherence against dependency, surveillance, and disintegration.

We affirm the written word and written thought against
multimedia, multitasking, and the meme.

We choose the real over representation,
the physical over the digital,
the durable over the unsustainable,
the self-sufficient over the efficient."


Polt believes in the typewriter.

His manifesto has led to a book, "The Typewriter Revolution," (a typist's companion for the 21st century.) And to being featured in a documentary "California Typewriter," "a portrait of artists, writers, and collectors who remain steadfastly loyal to the typewriter as a tool and muse."

It almost makes me want to buy one.

And then I remember:

1. Typing is not compatible with manicures

2. Typewriters are heavy

3. They break and require schlepping to the repair store - see number 2

4. Remember carbon paper, white out, and erasable onion skin paper?

5. They use ribbons.

I am not ready to move to that cabin in the woods.

Off the grid.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Web Secret 477: Amazing Websites

Forget social media.

To access useful and immersive information, you need to visit a website.

Remember websites?

Here are some fantastic ones:

Radio Garden - A remarkable website that allows you to tune into radio broadcasts all around the world simply by dragging your mouse around an interactive map.

My Car Makes Noise - A lifesaver if you’re about to take your car in for expensive repairs. The site lets you browse car-related sounds and helps you determine exactly what the problem is.

Still Tasty - A simple site that gives accurate estimations if the food in your fridge is still safe to eat. The ultimate shelf life guide.

Explore Everest - An awesome full screen experience that takes users from the Everest basecamp all the way to the top. It makes you fully appreciates what a daunting experience climbing Everest really is.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Web Secret 476: Fun and games

I like games.

But I don't like to kill orcs, zombies or other assorted creatures. And I certainly don't want to be racing against the clock.

No, I want my games to be soothing, beautiful, and quietly challenging.

So forget first place shooter titles. Instead download:

Monument Valley I and II. If M.C. Escher could have designed a game, this would be it.

The Room I, II, III. Imagine an incredibly baroque and complex chest of drawers whose secrets unfold themselves like origami whenever you solve a puzzle.

Fairway Solitaire. Sometime I want to enjoy the junk food equivalent of gaming. Fairway Solitaire is a combo of classic solitaire and golf. It is brainless and utterly addictive. Perfect for standing online or passing time in a waiting room.

It's summer.

Have some fun.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Web Secret 475: tech's frightful five

Two months ago, I read a New York Times article "Tech’s Frightful Five: They’ve Got Us."

I can't stop thinking about it.

Author Farhad Manjoo makes the point that we are all in "inescapable thrall to one of the handful of American technology companies that now dominate much of the global economy. I speak, of course, of ... the Frightful Five: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google."

Farhad then asks the reader: "If an evil monarch forced you to choose, in what order would you give up these inescapable giants of tech?"

The first cut was easy for me - Facebook. It never had much of a hold on me. I rarely post, preferring to spend a few minutes each day scrolling to read what my friends are outraged about at that point in time.

See ya, Facebook

After that, it was very difficult.

I live in a retail desert and I would guess that 80% of what I purchase I do through Amazon. And then there are the TV shows I enjoy through Amazon Prime. But if I absolutely had to, I could purchase directly from product websites. It would take longer, but it could be done.

Bye bye Amazon.

Microsoft - sure I use Word every day, and PowerPoint and Excel from time to time. But I could use Apple's Pages and Prezi instead. I also don't use any of Microsoft's laptops, tablets, etc.

Ta ta Microsoft.

Alphabet - is not just the parent company of Google, but of YouTube. There are other search engines - Wolfram Alpha comes to mind. But YouTube? It's not about cat videos for me. I go there to see my father George London. He is preserved in dozens upon dozens of live and taped performances. It would be hard to find an alternative source for all of those clips.

So reluctantly, adieu, Alphabet.

Last would have to be Apple. I could not survive without my MacBook Pro, my iPad Mini, or my iPhone 7 plus. It's how I work and navigate the world. Through them I read books and play games. I use countless iOS apps, to do countless things.

I will leave you last, Apple.

Now it's your turn.

How would you rank the frightful five?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Web Secret 474: Singularity Hub

No need to consult the Oracle at Delphi, you can predict the future by visiting Singularity Hub.

I'll let them explain themselves:

"Singularity Hub chronicles technological progress by highlighting the breakthroughs, players, and issues shaping the future as well as supporting a global community of smart, passionate, action-oriented people who want to change the world."

Oh.

Here is a taste of what you can learn on their website:

4 New Human Rights for When Our Brains Are Hooked Up to Computers

Cybersecurity Pros Will Soon Patrol Computer Networks Like Agents in ‘The Matrix’

Dwarf Planetary Systems Will Transform the Hunt for Alien Life

These 5 Big Tech Trends Are Changing the Way We Learn

I'm hyperventilating.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Web Secret 473: slow TV

All of a sudden slow TV is having it's day.

Slow TV involves broadcasting tasks and activities in real time. With little or no narration.

In Norway, slow TV is a huge hit.

Norwegians produced a 7 hour train journey.

And a 13 hour National Knitting Night.

These slow gems are now available on Netflix.

If watching sheep being shorn is not your vibe, check out these perennial favorites:

It doesn't have to be Christmas to enjoy "The Yule Log."


Channel your inner Seventies and watch the iconic Bob Ross, host of the "Joy of Painting."


Slow TV: the antidote to our rapid paced 21st century lifestyle.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Web Secret 472: the people who train the robots

Before the robots take over our jobs, they will have to learn our jobs.

This is already happening.

The New York Times profiled five people who have been put in this remarkable position. More than most, they understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of artificial intelligence and how technology is changing the nature of work.

Here is the Cliff Notes version of that article:

Rachel Neasham, travel agent

Ms. Neasham works for a travel booking app Lola. She knew the company’s artificial intelligence computer system — its name is Harrison — would eventually take over parts of her job. Still, there was soul-searching when it was decided that Harrison would actually start recommending and booking hotels.

At an employee meeting late last year, the agents debated what it meant to be human, and what a human travel agent could do that a machine couldn’t. While Harrison could comb through dozens of hotel options in a blink, it couldn’t match the expertise of, for example, a human agent with years of experience booking family vacations to Disney World.

Ms. Neasham sees it as a race: Can human agents find new ways to be valuable as quickly as the A.I. improves at handling parts of their job?

Diane Kim, interaction designer

Ms. Kim works as an A.I. interaction designer at x.ai, a New York-based start-up offering an artificial intelligence assistant to help people schedule meetings. X.ai pitches clients on the idea that, through A.I., they get the benefits of a human assistant — saving the time and hassle of scheduling a meeting — at a fraction of the price.

It’s Ms. Kim’s job to craft responses for the company’s assistants, that feel natural enough that swapping emails with these computer systems feels no different than emailing with a human assistant.

Dan Rubins, chief executive

Mr. Rubins created Legal Robot, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to translate legalese into plain English.

Having reviewed nearly a million legal documents, Legal Robot also flags anomalies in contracts.

Legal documents are well suited to machine learning because they are highly structured and repetitive. The less time lawyers need to spend reviewing contracts, the more time they can spend on, say, advisory work or litigation.

Sarah Seiwert, customer representative

It took two weeks for Ms. Seiwert to notice that her company’s A.I. computer system was starting to pick up on her work patterns.

She is a customer representative at the online test-prep company Magoosh. When an email comes into Magoosh, its A.I. system reads the email, categorizes it and routes it to the appropriate employee. After a few months, it starts to automate responses for some common questions. This happens when the A.I. has seen enough examples of how human agents handled the request that it gains confidence that its answer will be correct.

Even though the A.I. is learning from human, Ms. Seiwert doesn’t foresee a future where she’s out of a job. Too many questions still require a level of human intuition to know the appropriate answer.

Aleksandra Faust, software engineer

Formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project, Waymo wants to build autonomous vehicles that can react properly under all kinds of unusual circumstances. Not only when drivers run red lights, but also when a child crosses an intersection riding a hoverboard while walking a dog.

Waymo’s cars have driven two million miles in the real world and billions more in computer simulations. But it’s impossible to program for every event.

Safety is a concern, but so is comfort. Take the process of braking at a red light. When human drivers see a red light, they tend to slow down gradually before coming to a full stop.

A sudden stop is dangerous because other drivers may not be paying attention. And it is jarring for the passengers.

Ms. Faust’s team creates different models for the most natural way a car should brake depending on how fast it is going.

We live in disruptive times.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Web Secret 471: the death of in person psychotherapy - part 2

This week I finally realized, (much sooner than expected,) the in person psychotherapy session is marching towards extinction.

It happened when I noted the sudden proliferation of apps and platforms geared towards a virtual or digital counseling/coaching experience.

I'm talking about you:

Encrypted texting platform  
WhatsApp.

Texting apps  
7cups.com  
Talkspace - raised 15 million in venture capital. Talkspace for business is invading the world of corporate mental health and EAP.

Online therapy platforms  
ginger.io
better help

Cognitive therapy app  
joyable.com - also marketing to the workplace

Coaching app  
Lantern - raised $17 million in venture capital

Mood tracking app  
T2 Mood Tracker - Who is behind this app? The US Department of Defense

Artificial intelligent weight loss coaching app
Sam - powered by IBM's Watson.

And I could have listed dozens more.

People born in 1993 are the last of the Millenial generation. In a couple of years, Gen Z will begin to enter the workplace.

They have never known a world without Facetime or Skype.

So combine money, the US military, IBM, millions of dollars and a growing number of users who are perfectly comfortable with digital media; couple that with a demand for immediate response.

And you have an explosion.

And the old office based clinical model will die.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Web Secret 470: the death of inperson psychotherapy - part 1

I finally found someone who tried Talkspace.

It's not someone I know personally or another psychotherapist.

It's Casey Schwartz, a reporter who wrote "What happens when you share your deepest anxieties with an app?" for Departures magazine.

Quick reminder, Talkspace is a subscription-based psychotherapy app that allows for unlimited texting with a licensed professional starting at $128 per month.

Schwartz writes: "Despite the absence of a personal rapport, I surprised myself ... [finding] some small but real degree of comfort at having this source of encouragement and cheer, who was always only a text message away ... Yet because I happen to know what it is to actually sit in a room with a living, breathing psychologist ... I registered all too glaringly the superficiality inherent in my Talkspace arrangement. To me, insight and advice are nice, but the relationship itself is the point.

Others see it differently. “Cost, access, and stigma,” ... “Those are the three pillars of why people are interested in digital therapy.”

...The online therapy movement ... has provoked plenty of skepticism. Justin Shubert, a psychologist in Los Angeles and the director of Silver Lake Psychotherapy, questions the very selling point of many of these programs: the instant access. “When a therapist is on demand, that’s reinforcing an immature way of relating for a lot of people, where the therapist is there to gratify the client’s needs wherever and whenever they want,” Shubert says. “That’s not how real relationships work.”

...As for me, I soon realized that I was hesitating to reveal anything truly personal ... Our exchange began to wear on my nerves on or around day six... I found I had come to dread the whole communication. So I did the only thing I could think to do: I ghosted my online therapist."


Schwartz lists a couple of other apps in the same vein as Talkspace:

Lantern Instead of therapy, Lantern offers “coaching.” Users share problems via text and receive highly structured strategies for feeling better in that moment, such as guided meditation or breathing exercises. Starting at $49 a month. In 2016, Lantern raised $17 million for its mobile-based mental health coaching program.

T2 Mood Tracker This free app enables its users to track their own mental health, helping them to identify patterns and triggers by which they might gain greater insight and control over changes in mood. Who is behind this app? Like many innovations in tele behavioral health - the US Department of Defense. War is not good for people and other living things.

Ginger.IO This app combines the concept of smartphone-based fitness tracking with live human feedback and care from a coach or therapist and/or a psychiatrist to help with medication support. Works with text-message exchanges as well as videoconferencing. Starting at $129 a month.

Sam Using artificial intelligence, Sam provides users with instant access anytime, to help them with losing weight. FYI, Sam is powered by IBM's Watson.

Who needs people to deliver counseling?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Web Secret 469: A video game to cope with grief

When was the last time you saw something remarkable?

I know, I couldn't remember either.

But today, I did.

When Amy Green's young son Joel was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor, she made up a bedtime story for his siblings to teach them about cancer. What resulted was a video game, mostly created by her husband Ryan, "That Dragon, Cancer," which takes players on a journey they can't win.

That's right, someone used the video game, a medium we think we know, to accomplish something seemingly impossible.

To understand how this happened, you could watch Amy's TED Talk.

Or read Wired Magazine's thought provoking exploration "A Father, a Dying Son, and the Quest to Make the Most Profound Videogame Ever," written by Jason Tanz.

Tanz explains: "That Dragon, Cancer is not a tricky game to master. Indeed, it’s barely a game at all, more a collection of scenarios that the player explores and clicks through. There is some degree of agency—you can decide how long to spend in any particular scene, for instance — but the overwhelming sensation is one of being a bug caught in a rushing river; you might veer a few degrees in either direction, but you can’t alter the overall flow."

"The questions That Dragon, Cancer is asking... are the kind of spiritual and existential quandaries that have haunted humanity since Job: Why are we here? Can we influence our fate? What kind of God would allow such suffering? How do we endure the knowledge that we, along with everyone we have ever met and loved, will die?

...That Dragon, Cancer doesn’t provide any solutions to its queries
."

Tanz quotes Reality Is Broken, by designer and academic Jane McGonigal, in which she argues that we should engineer our world to be more like a videogame, incorporating its system of rewards and escalating challenges to help us find meaning and accomplishment in our lives. "Green, though, is doing the opposite. He’s trying to create a game in which meaning is ambiguous and accomplishments are fleeting. He is making a game that is as broken—as confounding, unresolved, and tragically beautiful—as the world itself."

Or you could do none of the above, and play the game.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Web Secret 468: ThinOPTICS

At what age will you need reading glasses?

When I was young, I was a bit off with my guess.

By several decades.

I thought I wouldn't need reading glasses until I was in my eighties.

In fact, the average age at which Americans get reading glasses is around 40. By age 45 most of us are doomed.

And here's the truth: reading glasses are a pain in the neck.

People lose them, forget them, and otherwise never seem to have them on hand when they need them.

It's SUPER annoying.

Thank the Lord for ThinOPTICS.

They are wafer thin, weightless, pince-nez, that fold into an insubstantial case you can attach to the back of your smartphone.

They come in 6 different colors, or, if you want more visual excitement, in designer patterns.

For under $30.

You can thank me now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Web Secret 467: Slouching towards Gattaca

To this day, one of the finest and most important science fiction films I have ever seen is Gattaca (1997).

Briefly, the movie depicts a time in "the not-too-distant future", when eugenics is common. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to classify those so created as "valids," while those conceived by traditional means and thus more susceptible to genetic disorders are known as "in-valids". Genetic discrimination is illegal, but in practice genotype profiling is used to identify valids and qualify them for professional employment while in-valids are relegated to menial jobs.

After I watched Gattaca, 20 years ago, I knew that all I had to do is sit back and wait, and past would become prologue.

On April 6, 2017, I received an email from 23andMe announcing that: "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted 23andMe authorization to offer ten genetic health risk reports including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, celiac disease, and a condition associated with harmful blood clots."

The email also noted: "23andMe is now the only company authorized by the FDA to provide personal genetic health risk reports without a prescription."

RED ALERT.

I wasn't the only one to be alarmed. By April 7, Popular Science published an article titled "Getting your genetic disease risks from 23andme is probably a terrible idea." I quote from this article at length below:

"If you could know whether you were going to develop a debilitating, inevitable, untreatable disease at age 50, would you want to? 23andMe is offering you that opportunity—but they’re not going to ask you that question.

The central problem is this: 23andMe aims to give you all the information you want about your genetic background, but they don’t want to be responsible if that knowledge actually impacts you. Are you upset by results that indicate you’re likely to spend the last years of your life dependent on a caretaker, shaking uncontrollably, and losing the ability to speak? Talk to someone else. You’re not 23andMe’s problem anymore.

You can’t unring that bell. [emphasis mine]

And if a company is going to sell customers their right to know, they should have to provide help when that knowledge hurts."


It gets scarier:

"23andme's ultimate business plan product isn’t really a kit, [it's] YOU [emphasis mine]. With a massive database of genetic information, the company can turn around and sell that data to other companies...23andMe assures customers that all their information is completely anonymized. Of course they would never, ever break that rule. Except that even if they don’t, it turns out you can find out a man’s last name using only the short repeats on his Y chromosome and access to a genealogy database. Oh, and then you can identify his age and which state he lives in using publicly accessible resources."

Full circle back to Gattaca.

It only took 20 years.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Web Secret 466: Upwork

Here is my observation after 10+ years working as a web editor.

Most people out there can't write for s**t.

And that includes:

Boomers with PhDs

Millenials of any sort

Physicians

Lawyers

Real estate brokers

And there's more...

It's a disease that has reached pandemic proportions.

Have you ever tried to read a product manual?

Case in point, yesterday I tried to change the water filter in my Miele refrigerator/freezer for the first time.

I read the manual and I still I could not remotely ascertain where to find the location of the filter.

I called Miele customer support (MCS).

Me: "uh, it says the filter is located in the freezer compartment, but I don't see it."

CS: chuckle "Oh, it's actually under the freezer compartment."

Me: ???

CS: "You can only see it if you open the freezer compartment, get on your knees, and look under."

How about spelling that out in the manual, accompanied by some helpful diagrams?

Come to think of it, they need to improve origami instructions. I'm cool until I get to about step 5 - then I'm lost. How did they get from step 4 to step 5?

But I digress.

If you need help with writing of any sort, and other dreaded tasks like web development.

If you need an app maker.

If you need a personal assistant.

You need not suffer anymore.

Meet Upwork.

The freelancing website that will connect you with people who possess the time and/or skill to perform the tasks you can't squeeze into your daily schedule, or don't have a clue how to get done.

Sign up tout de suite.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Web Secret 465: Earth 2050

A couple of days ago, my mind exploded.

And I thought yours should to.

And all because I looked at a map.

Of course it wasn't your typical map - Earth 2050, provides a fascinating glimpse at a future based on predictions from futurists, professionals and members of the public.

If you want more background on this amazing project, read the Wired article.

But if you want to barely suppress screams of delight and awe, as well as an incipient panic attack, just click here.

Jaw drop.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Web Secret 464: Felix Gray

If you are reading this post, then most likely you're staring at a computer screen.

Maybe for a long time. Maybe for hours.

And by now, we all have a pretty good hunch that doing that is not great for our eyes.

Take it away, Felix Gray.

As they explain on their website:

"Our bodies were never supposed to spend all day in front of screens. Computer Vision Syndrome, also known as Digital Eye Strain, is categorized by the negative side effects of overusing computers. Symptoms include eye strain, blurred vision, headaches, dry eyes, and neck and back strain.

... this is a rapidly growing problem, which makes sense given how often we now stare at our screens. The average American is now in front of a computer for 7.5 hours a day. 200 million people—over 50% of the U.S. population—already report symptoms of Computer Vision Syndrome. And this number is increasing 7% per generation.

That’s why Felix Gray started. Our lenses are designed to combat Computer Vision syndrome by filtering blue light and eliminating glare. Blue light is high energy light emitted by screens and glare is unnecessary feedback that enters into the eye."


Felix Gray is not the first company to sell computer eyeglasses.

But they are the first to make them stylish.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Web Secret 463: Universal Basic Income

Universal basic income (UBI)is a form of social security in which all the citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, to cover basic expenses like food, rent, and clothes.

Elon Musk is one of the many technology leaders who has jumped on the UBI bandwagon:

"I think we'll end up doing universal basic income," Musk told the crowd at the World Government Summit in Dubai... "It's going to be necessary."

The economic forecasts for the next several decades don't bode well for the American worker...President Barack Obama [has] warned Congress about the looming threat of job loss, based on several reports that found that as much as 50% of jobs could be replaced by robots by 2030.

The downside of that projection is that millions of people would wind up out of a job — a possibility Musk discussed at the summit.

"There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better," he said. "I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen."


UBI will be essential in order to avoid a 21st century retread of the French Revolution in which the unemployed rise up en masse to destroy the upper class. Preventing a few thousand jobs from going to Mexico will not prevent the mass extinction of these U.S. blue collar - and even white collar - jobs.

How will EAPs position themselves to be effective and relevant in this new workplace landscape?

I don't yet know.

But we have 13 years to come up with an answer.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Web Secret 462: Aeon

Do you want to explore new ideas about subjects ranging from psychology to health, from technology to culture and more?

Delivered in a variety of mediums, on a really beautiful website.

By thought leaders.

Of course you do. You want Aeon

Aeon is a digital magazine publishing some of the most profound and provocative thinking on the web. Asking the big questions and finding the freshest, most original answers.

Aeon has four channels. One is Essays – longform explorations of deep issues written by serious and creative thinkers.

Example: "A bug for Alzheimer’s?" - A bold theory places infection at the root of Alzheimer’s, explaining why decades of treatment have done little good.

The second is Ideas – short provocations.

Example: "There is nothing inevitable or natural about chronic disease."

The third is Video - streaming a mixture of curated short documentaries and original Aeon content.

Example: "Can writing an 11,000-page autobiographical thesis cure addiction?"


The fourth is Conversations inviting the reader to input their own arguments and points of view.

Example: "How does increased involvement of fathers in childrearing alter public perceptions of masculinity?"

Aeon - committed to big ideas, serious inquiry and a humane worldview.

That’s it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Web Secret 461: Ignite

In need of mental stimulation but don't have the attention span for a TED Talk?

You need Ignite.

Ignite is a series of speedy presentations. Presenters get 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is a fast and fun presentation which lasts just 5 minutes.

What can you learn in just 5 minutes?

Quite a lot as it turns out.

Surprise! Your child has autism. Now what?


How to Get 5 Million People to Read Your Website


There are hundreds of them. On a multiplicity of topics. From all over the world.

Warning: the quality of Ignite sessions varies greatly, ranging from fantastic to terrible.

Fortunately, you can figure this out in a matter of seconds and move on.

Refreshing.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Web Secret 460: the Internet health report

Mozilla - the maker of the Firefox browser - just released the first ever Internet health report.

And why should you care?

"The Internet is an ecosystem. A living entity that billions of people depend on for knowledge, livelihood, self-expression, love…. The health of this system relies on – and influences – everyone it touches. Signs of poor health in any part impacts the whole. We’re all connected."

Okay, I get it. But how would you determine the health of the Internet?

You measure five factors:

1. How open is it? “Open” means that anyone can publish or invent online without asking for permission, and that the technologies used to run the Web are transparent and understandable.

2. Who is welcome online? Everyone deserves equal opportunity to access the Internet, and to use it to improve their lives and societies.

3. Who controls the Internet? Decentralization means the Internet is controlled by many. It’s millions of devices linked together in an open network. No one actor can own it, control it, or switch it off for everyone.

4. Is it safe and secure? The safety and security of the Internet impacts us all. We should be able to understand what is happening to our data, and have the ability to control how it is used.

5. Who can succeed online? We need everyone to have the skills to read, write and participate in the digital world, so more people can move beyond consuming to actually creating, shaping and defending the Web.

Party on, Mozilla.

You done good.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Web secret 459: Fiverr

Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The Fivver taglines are "Everything your business needs, simplified. Talented freelancers, millions of digital services, on budget and on time."

The site is used on the one hand by freelancers who use it to offer their services, and on the other hand by small businesses, private practices and startups to inexpensively create and grow.

Typical services include:

logo creation

article and blog post writing

social media marketing

website building

viral videos

and much, much more.

Fiverr explains the power of getting s**t done in an amusing video.

Freelance services for the lean entrepreneur.

That could be you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Web Secret 458: the real impact of workplace automation

We have all heard the dire forecast: in about 10 years or so, half of the jobs in existence today will be automated.

Bye bye jobs.

Not so fast.

It's more complicated than that explains James Manyika, a Director at the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), in his recent article, "Workplace automation: Separating fiction from fact."

The article explains that - astoundingly - back in 1964, US President Lyndon Johnson created a national commission to examine the impact of automation on the economy and employment. At that time, LBJ pointed out that automation should be viewed as an ally, not an enemy:

“If we understand it, if we plan for it, if we apply it well, automation will not be a job destroyer or a family displaced. Instead, it can remove dullness from the work of man and provide him with more than man has ever had before.”

Hard to be that optimistic a half century later, because technology has advanced at breakneck speed. Manyika writes: "...who back then could have imagined the legions of robots at work today in manufacturing... Machines today increasingly match or outperform human performance in a range of work activities, including ones requiring cognitive capabilities....Will robots replace humans in the workplace? And if so, how quickly?"

Manyika proceeds to quote from a recently published McKinsey Global Institute report on automation and its potential effects on productivity and the global economy.

Among the findings, "...almost half the activities we pay people about $15 trillion in wages to do in the global economy have the potential to be automated using currently demonstrated technology."

Scary, but there is a twist. "More jobs will change than will be automated away in the short to medium term. Only a small proportion of all occupations, about 5%, can be automated entirely using these demonstrated technologies over the coming decade..."

Manyika adds: "As companies deploy automation, we ... need to think more about mass redeployment rather than unemployment, and also ... think about people working alongside machines and the skills that will be needed for the workforce of today and tomorrow... They include capabilities that are inherently human, including managing and developing people, and social and emotional reasoning.

He concludes: "Just because the technical potential to automate a workplace activity exists does not mean that it will happen anytime soon...The pace and extent of automation will depend on a range of factors of which technical feasibility is only one—and there are still some important barriers to overcome, including the ability of computers to generate and understand natural language. Other factors include the dynamics of labor supply and demand. If there is no shortage in the labor market of cooks, it may not make business sense to replace them with an expensive machine."

Turns out that for the near future at least, humans are tech proof.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Web Secret 457: Millenials in the workplace

Working with Millennials can be a challenge.

Here's why...

... As explained by Simon Sinek, a British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant. He is the author of three books including the 2009 best seller, "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action."

And that is all I am going to write about that topic.

He said it better.

So watch. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Web Secret 456: Honey

I never buy anything online without using ebates, a browser add on that gives you cash back when you spend money at one of over 1,800 stores.

In addition, I also used to comb sites like retailmenot.com for coupons.

Well there is a better way.

Introducing Honey, another browser add-on that automatically applies coupon codes at checkout and, also finds better prices on Amazon for you, immediately.

Here s a 25 second video that tells you everything you need to know:


Happy shopping!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Web secret 455: High Tech, High Touch redux

 I first wrote a web secret about high touch in 2014. I am writing about it again in a different context.

In a recent blog post, I asked what does increased automation mean for those of us who are working in behavioral health care or employee assistance?

I pointed out that fortunately, what we do as mental health professionals is tech proof.

At least until right before The Singularity, when robot brains will be indistinguishable from human ones.

I feel confident that we will continue to thrive for at least a few decades, maybe even 50 years or more, because of a concept coined in 1982 by John Naisbitt, an expert in futures studies.

Naisbitt wrote Megatrends, the fruit of 10 years of research, in 1982. In it, he theorized that in a world of technology, people will long for personal, human contact. High tech, high touch.

How prescient!

He thought about this before Time Magazine's famous "The Computer, Machine of the Year" issue of 1983, for which the caption was "The computer moves in." I can still remember how shocked everyone was that a machine was on the cover instead of a person.

Naisbitt further elaborated on his concept in his 1999 update "High Tech, High Touch - technology and our search for meaning."

Based on exhaustive research, he described us as living in "a Technologically Intoxicated Zone," where we are bombarded with technological stimuli and live distanced and distracted.

At that time, Naisbitt noted that we struggled to bring high touch back into our lives, seeking meaning in religion and self-help books, popping Prozac and seeking connection to nature by driving SUVs and buying clothes from L.L. Bean.

The book suggested we pull the plug on the computer and TV, turn off the cell phone and beeper, and spend more time with family and friends.

He wrote this in 1999, before the smartphone and social media...

Back to the present, we may deliver services via portable technologies, but at least for a while, the therapist/client relationship will still be valued.

And employees will need the help of their EAPs to cope with the rapidly changing employment landscape.

And we will still need to pull the plug.