Rafael Calvo on technology and choices for mental health and well being

Rafael A. Calvo is an ARC Future Fellow, Professor and Director of the Positive Computing Lab  at the University of Sydney. He is also a co-author with Dorian Peters of the book, Positive Computing, published by MIT Press. Rafael describes a fascinating academic journey that spans physics, philosophy, computer science, and cognitive and affective computing. He talks about his current work on Positive Computing and designing technology to support people’s mental health and well being. He also shares experiences in managing his own mental health and well being, that includes some great tips.

“[a setback] was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me”

He talks about (times approximate) …

01:42 His current work and his varied career path – “sometimes they seem disconnected but there is a very strong thread in the middle”

08:30 His work on Positive Computing technologies, impacts of technology on people’s mental health, challenges of email

10:00 Responsibility to design so that we don’t hinder people’s health and well being, changing the mindset of designers to look beyond productivity … with examples eg the psychological benefits of effort in endorsements

14:45 Engaging with psychology theories and working with psychologists and interdisciplinary partnerships

19:18 Looking after his own mental health and well being and the impact of too much travel

20:50 Learning to say no, how you decide what to say yes/no to, email strategies, choosing admin work he can contribute what other people can’t, exaggerated risks of saying no as a young academic

26:56 Looking for opportunities where he doesn’t have technology, blocking times without interruptions, and more strategies

29:40 Keeping use of devices for work and home separate

35:10 End

Final notes:

Book: Calvo and Peters, ‘Positive Computing’, MIT Press 2014 - https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/positive-computing

Book: Wulf, Schmidt and Randall (eds) ‘Designing Socially Embedded Technologies in the Real World’, Springer 2015 - http://www.springer.com/us/book/9781447167198

Time Management software: RescueTime  - https://www.rescuetime.com

Paper: Cox et al, Design Frictions for Mindful Interactions: the case for Microboundaries, CHI EA 16 - https://uclic.ucl.ac.uk/content/4-publications/0-design-frictions-for-mindful-interactions-the-case-for-microboundaries/cox.chi.2016.pdf 

Video: Brad Feld on tech and well being - http://www.positivecomputing.org/2016/04/brad-feld-on-tech-wellbeing.html