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What is POMIET?

POMIET is an acronym for Peace Of Mind In Everyday Technology. In this article we take this idea a little further.

Article Jan 21, 2013

Rob Keefer

The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus did not see life divided into parts. According to his philosophy, there is not a marked difference between a person’s work life and personal life, as we like to think today. Every aspect of a person contributes to who they are and what they produce. Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi has been quoted as saying, “You cannot do right in one area of life, whilst attempting to do wrong in another. Life is one continuous whole.” Writing a computer program is not separate from the rest of your existence. If you are a sloppy thinker and lack integrity or courage at home, there aren’t any tricks that can help you fix these character flaws at work.

One problem with this Zen-like ideal is that distractions for typical corporate workers are more pervasive than just technology. The work environment, corporate politics, and personal problems affect everyone to one degree or another. These distractions, coupled with the fact that so many tools people use to do their daily work are not well-designed, provide great opportunity to be unproductive. Project managers who look for accurate estimates never assume a workday will last longer than 6 hours. They know that on the best day a person will be productive only 6 hours out of an 8 or 9-hour day.

Consider a simple example. If your boss announces a layoff, or you have a run-in with another department, or you get into an argument with a friend at lunchtime, isn’t it difficult to focus on your work? Life is a continuous whole, and when work is an intense mental task, we tend to incorporate our state-of-mind into our work. How many of us have completed a task one day while in a state of frustration, only to come back and change most of it when we are in a better state of mind?

POMIET is an acronym for Peace Of Mind In Everyday Technology. Often people are not as productive as they could be because they spend so much time fighting with the tools they use to do their job. Simply stated, in a world so filled with distraction, well-designed technology can promote serenity, harmony, and agreement with one’s environment. If a person is not distracted by the technology they use, he or she will be able to maintain longer term focus on the task at hand; therefore becoming more productive.

The goal of POMIET is to address the technology people use everyday. Web and mobile apps, and many other devices are generally designed without consideration of the rest of the environment. People use technology within a context, and when this context is left out of the equation, poor human-machine interactions are sure to follow.

If system designers are to develop systems that can handle more and more complexity, they must address the context of use that affects the user’s peace of mind. Offloading certain menial tasks to automation can begin to reduce frustrations and distractions, and design a system that promotes POMIET.

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