A Story About “Windows”​ And The Importance Of Diversity In The Tech Industry

It’s been some time now since I finished reading The Shallows, what the Internet is doing to our brains by Nicholas Carr and I keep thinking about the following passage:

David Levy, in Scrolling Forward, describes a meeting he attended at Xerox’s famed Palo Alto Research Center in the mid-1970s, a time when the high-tech lab’s engineers and programmers were deciding many of the features we now take for granted in our personal computers.

A group of prominent computer scientists had been invited to PARC to see a demonstration of a new operation system that made “multitasking” easy. […] the new system divided a screen into many “windows”, each of which could run a different program or display a different document. To illustrate the flexibility of the system, the Xerox presenter clicked from a window in which he had been composing software code to another window that displayed newly arrived e-mail message. He quickly read and replied to the message, then hopped back to the programming window and continued coding.

Some in the audience applauded the new system. They saw that it would enable people to use their computers much more efficiently. Others recoiled from it. “Why in the world would you want to be interrupted -and distracted- by e-mail while programming?” one of the attending scientists angrily demanded.

I keep thinking about that scientist.

Almost forty years later, we can see how the windows interface has been chosen as the most preferred way to do things. There are windows within windows within windows everywhere, especially when navigating the Internet.

Along the book, Nicholas Carr explains how he began to notice that the Internet was having a much stronger and broader influence over him than his old stand-alone PC ever had:

“The very way my brain worked seemed to be changing. It was then that I began worrying about my inability to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of minutes. […] Even when I was away from my computer, I yearned to check e-mail, click links, do some Googling. I wanted to be connected. […] I missed my old brain.”

I can very much relate to this, even when I don’t consider myself to spend much time online or multitasking when working with my computer. But, I do have a child and I keep thinking about how the way we interact with computers will be making an influence on him, especially when his brain is still developing.

The life of the Internet is facing interesting years. Meetings, such as the one referred above, are happening everywhere all the time. Meetings where decisions are being made on topics that will immensely influence not only the way we work, but also the way we live our lives, such as the idea of “windows”.

And I keep thinking about that scientist.

And also about a parallel world where scientists attending that meeting said “no” to “windows”. A world where our relationship with computers is being designed to support our concentration, instead of multiple threads of information. Would my old brain be back?

I dream with a better, more human digital world for our children.

And I believe that projects like Zerus & Ona might help us get there. During my visit at Springest, I got asked to share the ideas behind my vision and you can watch the talk here (min 29:08).


Got friends with kids and you think they’ll also enjoy the adventures of Zerus & Ona? Share this article and tell them about their first book. Let’s reach as many kids as we can 🙌

Today’s world needs many different types of people to start thinking about technology and to care about it. 

How I Make Time For Zerus And Ona As A Mom

We never know when the day starts. It all depends on how the night was. However once it does, I finally found a rhythm that we can follow, that allows me to spend lots of time with little boy and at the same time gives me space to work on Zerus & Ona. 

It took me a while to get here, so writing a story about it might help other moms.


Morning

→ Shower. I was always an evening shower person, during 33 years. It was a way to relax, unwind, getting ready for bed. But now, I do it in the morning, first thing of the day, while Little Boy still sleeps. It helps me to set the tone of the day, getting things done from the start. And also I need to be ready to get out of the house whenever he asks for a walk (and I never know how much time I’ll have!).

→ Breastfeeding. Little Boy is the first one to have breakfast around the house. And I just transformed this moment into what used to be my morning meditation.

→ Playtime. These days he’s all into crawling and trying to stand. All The Time. I let him practice by himself while I set up my bullet journal, have breakfast and do the first round in the kitchen. I’ve divided all my recipes into two separate steps, which I can do in two different moments. Sometimes there’s just not enough time for a full recipe. Before finding this out, I would feel anxious all the time of leaving food halfway. I also use this time to do a couple of things around the house, like laundry or cleaning. I have divided the whole household into small parts so I only need to do a bit every day. And it’s also a way for us of having free weekends!

→ Reading. I sit down with him and play together while I tell him the things that we’ll be doing along that day. We then read a book or two, depending on his energy levels! I think he got used to a book just before each of his naps and since then he falls asleep more peacefully. No scientific proof that this is actually true, though.

→ Nap. I promised myself that I’d get out of the house every single day. It’s good for my brain, for my body, as well as Little Boy’s. And I set a minimum number of kilometres that I must do per week so I can (once and for all!) recover from the postpartum! During his nap I also read and write, like I am doing now.

→ Café. I always liked to work at cafés. Something about the atmosphere gets me inspired, let it be the smell, the people or the light. Lucky me there’s a nice café in the neighbourhood that I can visit daily.

I met so many people there during these last months. People that became an important part of my life now. There’s a woman that owns her own company about top art guiding tours, a retired theatre director who used to travel a lot for work and now he drinks his coffee in front of me. The barista’s, who are becoming the best playing mates of little boy. And then there’s another mom like me, writing her PhD working in 3-hour shifts because it’s the time that she has until the next feed. With her I can share the ups and downs of mom life. And these are just some to mention a few.

I normally draw, set up the sketch of the day and do some research about it. I never know how long I’ll be having. Little Boy’s nap times vary from 30, 40, 60 to 90 minutes. Which actually makes this moment very exciting, and I had to learn how to divide my work in very, very tiny pieces so that I can stop any time.

→ Shopping. On our way home, we do the groceries. We’re busy learning all veggies, just in case he decides to become a chef!

Afternoon

→ Breastfeeding.

→ Lunch. Second round in the kitchen, getting things ready for lunch. We introduced solid foods some weeks ago, so Little Boy is still learning about colours, textures and flavours. Lots of patience required here.

→ Playtime. I think this is one of Little Boy’s favourite moments of the day. He plays the most when his belly is full, laughing and talking all the time. It’s great to see him struggle with some poses and finally get over them after some days. Every day there is a new challenge to face! While he explores every corner in our living-room, I do a bit more around the house.

→ Reading. Second book of the day before he falls asleep.

→ Nap. The second nap of the day we do it at home, where I enjoy some silence. This is also the moment when I check social media, finish some work-in-progress sketches and do some computer work, like drawing in Photoshop.

→ Breastfeeding.

→ Yoga. For some months I looked for a way to practice at home as I used to: alone, quietly, maybe with some journaling. But I discovered that the best way to do it now is actually together with Little Boy. He laughs and moves like crazy, while I move from one sun salutation to another. Also I close my eyes, become silent, focus on my breathing… and it’s very interesting to see his reaction, like he knows that this moment is different from anything else in the day. I cannot wait for the day that he decides to join me!

Most of the days, Dad comes back during our yoga session, he sits down with us and spend some time together around the mat. One of the best moments of the day!

Evening

Evenings are easier to handle because Dad is there and he takes care of him. He helps out with dinner, prepares the bath and does the last reading. But, the last breastfeeding of the day is still on me!


Frequently Asked Questions

Are you working? Oh yes, definitely! Taking care of Little Boy is one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever done. It requires lots of new learning, organisational skills and, on top of that, the greatest soft skills!

Taking care of my baby is actually the most interesting project I’ve ever managed.

Are those the only moments that you breastfeed? Not at all. Those are just the moments when I sit down with him and relax. But he likes to drink a bit here and there during the whole day.

Do you feel lonely? Sometimes, especially during those rainy, windy, gray days.

Do you ever fall? Yes, sometimes. Mostly when I had a few bad nights in a row. Hormones take over. And afterwards I need to bring myself together again. Discovering the tools to do that as fast as possible is part of the process.

Do you see yourself following this rhythm for a long time? Not at all! Babies really change all the time. They can even feel when you are getting comfortable with the situation, so don’t get used to it because your routines will change before you know it!

I like saying that taking care of my baby is teaching me some of the best practices of continuous integration.