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Digital Access and Well-Being

Very soon, we will be able to measure well-being for every person accurately, in near real time.

There are 3 primary barriers to that:

  1. We need a scientific theory for precisely measuring well-being

  2. We need tools for tracking well-being at the individual level, and at scale

  3. Universal digital access (for near real time)

We already have the first, we are working on the second, and we are close to the third.

Digital Access, the third, has 3 different levels:

  1. Basic data -- No video streaming

  2. Broadband -- Video Streaming (3-4g)

  3. 5g+

There is often confusion, using the label of "No Digital Access" for:

  • No access, or partial access to the 2nd tier

  • No in home access, when they are 100% mobile

  • Partial or limited access (say on public wifi)

  • Deliberate avoidance (like in older adults, and 'low tech' lifestyles)

While the ultimate goal is to get 100% access to everyone at 5g+, it's important to understand these variations, and how they impact both digital access, but also well-being. Pew did a survey in 2019 that is a good starting point for much of this:

There are 3 technological trends that will impact this:

  • Improving bandwidth and increasing digital use

  • IoT

  • Living with less data

Increasing Digital use and Bandwidth

There's not much to say about this trend. Most people have finally caught on that this has been happening for 20+ years, and is an ongoing inevitability.

The only recent changes are that barriers to adoption have almost entirely been dropped (thanks mostly to Covid lockdowns), and so usage and bandwidth needs are racing upward as well.


What these newcomers haven't learned that they can from IoT, or the growing "Internet of Things", is that digital doesn't need a lot of data or bandwidth.

And in fact, the best IoT systems don't require huge amounts of data or bandwidth.

Rather, they are simple and elegant JIT systems ("just-in-time"), so that small amounts of data at the right time require far less work and effort than passing and managing large and complex databases.

This continues to 'connect' the things in our lives, and will continue to improve, while needing less data, and being more aligned to well-being

Living with Less Data

As smart technology becomes more ubiquitous in our lives, our direct usage of it will diminish.

The last few years have seen a growing number of apps and tools to help people disconnect and streamline their lives.

Data is currently distributed, diverse, and poorly structured.

But almost none of it is used.

We are in an era of massive content production, but declining content viewing. At least by actual people.

As systems streamline, and better align with the well-being of consumers, the data consumption per user will decline.

It's only growing now because of:

  • the ease of access

  • a continually growing audience

  • the boom of content

  • masterful ad algorithms, that push huge amounts of content that are almost entirely ignored

Thus, digital access:

  • Is almost saturated

  • Should focus on well-being and long term trends

  • Can save money and effort, by minimizing data needs in design


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