Technologies require maturity

It is a fact that the big technology companies are trying to keep us hooked. After watching the documentary ‘The Dilemma’, I was struck by the number of things they have in mind to capture our attention and how well they study their audience. That the workers themselves decided to leave their management positions to tell the public about their experiences and become guarantors of digital ethics through foundations that counteract the power of the technological platforms gives us pause for thought.

We know that there are thousands of dollars behind every “like”, every post and every user. Social networks have become sales channels that move a lot of money through influencers, but the more we are aware of these details, the more we know about the intentions and raison d’être of these companies, the more we will be able to develop tools that allow us to make correct use of them and discern between the real and the unreal: to avoid acting blindly.

The Communication Project that we launched last week, ‘The Impact of Technology in the Home‘, gathers valuable testimonies. It is not about being alarming, but about taking the right steps. We already know that technology is neither good nor bad in itself, it all depends on the use we make of it and also on the responsibility assumed by the developers. Marta Sánchez, Global Head of Retail Digitalisation and Distribution at Vodafone UK, explains that her company has tried to face the challenges that this rapid evolution offers, putting the person, the user, at the centre of its objectives. As she says, they are well aware of the importance of going down this road together, sharing the challenge with society.

We are all capable of appreciating the advantages that technology has brought us. We are also capable of seeing the changes that are taking place in the way we relate to each other, the way we work, the way we communicate, and even the way we manage our homes. What we have to achieve, and this is a personal task that the community must support by offering tools to families, is to develop an ability not to accept or fall for everything that is given to us and to distinguish the wheat from the chaff. For that, as psychiatrist Enrique Rojas says in the report, maturity is needed.

Therefore, while enjoying the marvelous advantages of technology, let’s encourage this maturity.  The digital world is parallel to the real world and that means that it will affect our mental, emotional, cerebral, rational, personal and professional stability. The conclusion does not change, it is up to us to be prepared and to prepare future generations so that this impact is positive, and we manage to avoid the risks that will always exist.

This report is also available in Spanish ‘El Impacto de la Tecnología en el Hogar’

The Impact of Technology in the Home

We know it’s not Thursday, but we have something very exciting to tell you.

After long months of hard work, our latest Communication Project, The Impact of Technology in the Home, is out.

Here you have the testimonies of experts, parents, psychiatrists, teachers, engineers at your disposal to understand a little better what impact technologies have on our home, on the relationships between the different members of the family and how we should prepare ourselves for the challenges that their incorporation offers us, which are not always negative but can also be a great opportunity.

 

As usual, we have it also in Spanish ‘El Impacto de la Tecnología en el Hogar’.

We hope you enjoy it and share it with those you think may be interested in these issues.

News & More

“I hope that the spring sunshine we are seeing is also a herald of hope as the world emerging from the pandemic finds itself with more challenges. When we look at what is unfolding in Ukraine, we must hope to restore the balance and peace that we have lost in recent times.

The sadly very relevant topic of homes lost and found is the focus of our next Experts Meeting in Washington DC in September, with the support of the Social Trends Institute. Led by Professor Sophia Aguirre of the Catholic University of Washington and director of HRF, the group of experts will address ‘The Home and Displaced People.’ Home is more than a place to stay: how can a fuller understanding of home inform approaches to migration and support of displaced people. Learn more here.

Our research partnership with the International Centre for Work and Family at IESE, is proving to be very fruitful as the team works on the first three papers.  Analysing and interpreting the complex relationships between the attitudes and activities of the home and the workplace is providing key insights into the role of the work of the home in individual, family and professional flourishing. Our thanks to ICWF Director Professor Mireia Las Heras and to Professors Marc Grau and Yasin Rofcanin for the high calibre studies they are engaged in with HRF to benefit all with an interest in this vital field.

HRF is also pleased to be involved in an advisory role with academic leaders of research proposals relating to our work on The Home in the Digital Age. One impact of the pandemic has been to reveal the home as the frontline of technology designed to support not just WFH but all aspects of domestic life. HRF champions the home as a place of life-long care and nurture and it is good to have our seat at the table when decisions affecting all our homes are being made.

In February, we were delighted to hear from our patron Professor Gamal Abdelmonem and his Vice-Chancellor that cultural heritage research at Nottingham Trent University, led by Professor Abdelmonem, has earned a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education: the highest national honour for a UK university. We are proud of our association with this work and send renewed congratulations.

Our forthcoming publication ‘Happiness and Domestic Life’ is due to go on sale later this year. In the meantime, we continue with the launches of ‘The Home in the Digital Age’. Just a reminder for Spanish speakers, that we had the privilege of participating in an event at the Universidad Panamericana in Mexico, with one of the co-authors of the book, Professor Matilde Santos. Please use this link to see the event.

We are also about to launch our latest Communication Project which reflects on the Impact of Technology in the Home.  The voices of parents, experts, psychologists, psychiatrists, engineers and developers have been gathered to help to understand how the integration of technologies in the home is taking place and how it is being experienced by families.

I am glad to be able to share this news of our work and all the work behind the scenes by the HRF team that this represents.

With best wishes to you and your homes this Easter,”

Bryan K. Sanderson CBE

The Home and Displaced People

Like many of you who read this blog, I myself am a person who lives in a different country from the one in which I was born. In my 36 years of life I have already lived in 6 cities in 3 different countries, but I have done so seeking to grow personally and professionally and having the certainty that I can return to my country when this international experience has fulfilled its expectations. It will not be easy, because that is what those who have already returned say. I will not be the same person who left home in 2003 to study a degree, nor the same person who established her home in 2012 outside her hometown, nor the same person who packed her bags in 2015 to live in the UK, but the sum of all the new experiences, the people I have met, the difficulties and challenges, will have forged the person who freely decided to move.

Unfortunately, this is not the experience that people who migrate or move under compulsion usually have. As we are seeing with the Russian invasion, Ukrainians flee the bombs, with no prior physical or mental preparation, leaving everything behind and not knowing what life will bring. This uncertainty, this insecurity, this fear, is affecting the deepest part of the human being. We have seen Afghans, Venezuelans, Syrians fleeing and many more on our screens in recent years. We also see those fleeing poverty, risking their lives, crossing paths with mafias who blackmail them and whose only aim is to reach Europe, the land they long for, the land of the footballers who, like them, have also crossed the world to fulfill their dreams. There are those who are lucky, those who meet good people when they arrive and survive until they get papers that allow them to work. But there are those who are less lucky, who are forced to commit crime in order to put something to eat in their mouths. People who end up hating the country they arrived in because it did not give them the opportunity they had hoped for.

Movements, displacements, comings and goings, dreams fulfilled but also broken dreams. Opportunities for some, despair for others. Uprootedness in many cases that can sink a person or give them wings to achieve a better life.

Over the last months we have been working on our Experts Meeting The Home and Displaced People to be held in Washington DC in September, supported by the Social Trends Institute.  Our academic director and meeting leader, Professor Sophia Aguirre, has assembled a panel of key contributors on the issues and impact of migration. Experts who understand what it means for people to leave their homes and roots and start a new life elsewhere.
Suzan Ilcan, Professor of Sociology at the University of Waterloo, and editor of Mobilities, Knowledge, and Social Justice, will be one of the experts contributing to The Home and Displaced people. Her work with refugees underlines the precarious nature of leaving and seeking home and some of the ways in which to understand the broader picture of an increasingly mobile world. Finding a place to call home and to feel at home is key to human thriving: at the heart of the vision of HRF and all those searching for home today.

Far from Home

Images of families fleeing their homes are sadly not that rare on our screens – from  Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan to name only a few from recent years. The events of the last week in Ukraine have brought the reality and the horror of such images much closer to home for many of us who live in the West.

It is hard to watch crying, frightened children and their desperate parents gathering all can they transport as they leave their beloved homes. Homes where it is now too dangerous to stay. It is hard to watch as older people mourn while the young seize weapons to defend their homeland. The fear and urgency felt by far away refugees now feels close at hand.

Being forced to flee one’s home is not only a crisis of this current moment but the crisis of our century. The causes vary – war, oppression, economic deprivation, natural disasters – but all result in people on the move. People often in great fear and without anywhere to go, and always displaced from the places they called home.

It was reflecting on this world crisis that prompted HRF to plan our next Expert Meeting, supported by the Social Trends Institute. The Home and Displaced People takes place in Washington DC this coming September. HRF Director and academic leader of the meeting, Professor Sophia Aguirre, has put together a prestigious international panel of contributors to address how people generate a home in the midst of unstable circumstances caused by displacement. Experts will share material relevant to understanding the role of home for displaced people, and be able to respond to this input in study and policy development in this area.

Meeting rooms and expert discussions can also feel very far away from the suffering we see on our screens. The aim of the meeting, and the continuing vision of HRF, is for the home to be at the heart of the global policies which affect each individual and wider society. Meeting, thinking and talking now can make the actions that follow of genuine benefit to the most disadvantaged – and displaced – in our world.

As we posted earlier this week: Home Renaissance Foundation wants to send a message of solidarity to all those driven from their homes and who are living in fear in their homes as a result of this war in Ukraine. We believe that the right to a secure home is a human right and cherishing the home is a sign of our humanity.

The think tank lobby

There are many ways to lobby or at least try to influence, guide, or advise those who make legislative decisions.

We are used to seeing the work done by large corporations or associations and employers, who bring together the feelings of a sector and try to make it reach public administrations at the local, national, or European level. Having a good interlocutor who works on relations with policymakers and who conveys the message constructively adding value to the legislative process is key.

But today we focus this post on the strength of research as a tool of influence. The Home Renaissance Foundation is an international think tank based in London that has dedicated its time and efforts to research on home management for 16 years. Its president, Bryan K. Sanderson, former CEO of BP and General Director of Bupa, brought together a group of people from his environment, concerned about the instability of homes despite their importance to society.

He had observed that when a company employee does not have a certain balance and well-being at home, his or her performance is lower and sometimes he or she spends more hours in the office unnecessarily. He thought that an academic think tank investigating these issues could be relevant not only for companies, but for society as a whole and for the individual in particular. And this could in turn serve as support for governments when taking legislative measures, either related to the labour sphere or to conciliation.

Sixteen years later, this think tank is unique in academic research on the home, bringing together world experts from very diverse disciplines to participate in all its activities, publishing books with Routledge, a highly prestigious academic publishing house and organizing meetings and events with policymakers, both in the United Kingdom and leading countries in Europe, as well as in the United States and South America.

Research requires time and investment, but it offers precise arguments and truthful statements that make dialogue with decision-makers much easier. It is an invaluable guide for proper legislative management.

Learning from adversity

Today the content of this post should be different. We should be telling you about the interesting debate that took place at The House of Commons after the presentation of our book ‘The Home in the Digital Age‘.
Everything was ready, and those of us who came from abroad were already in London. But it was not to be. Our event is unfortunately postponed because Covid19 forced us to do so.
At Home Renaissance Foundation we decided to take things positively, above all, because homes are precisely an environment used to flexibility, with pre-established schedules and rhythms, but which from one day to the next or even in a matter of minutes must be able to adapt to the needs of its members. And the beauty of it is that, with rare exceptions, they always manage to get by, thanks to the effort or work of some and the understanding and empathy of others. So that’s where we are.
On Monday, we were able to meet with some of the attendees and set the lines of work for the coming months, we shared projects and ideas and we were especially happy to see each other again in person.
We hope to be able to celebrate this launch at a later date and we thank all those who have been working to make this possible today. We are neither the first nor the last to be affected by this situation, so we look forward with hope.
Hopefully, we will soon be able to announce the new date and also tell you some details about the projects we have underway and the Experts Meeting we are working on, which will be held in September in Washington.
Normality, we are looking forward to seeing you, so don’t delay!

Profitability…

This weekend, I witnessed a conversation at a family meal that got me thinking. There was a discussion about the cost-effectiveness of social science research. It is obvious that when a university institution, for example, invests funds in research into a type of cancer, it is likely to eventually produce results that are of interest both to science and to the advancement of the patient’s cure. But what happens when you invest money, personnel and time in research, for example, social relations in the neighbourhood, the era of disinformation, the evolution of house design or social tribes and their influence on art? Some people think that this type of analysis is not profitable and its conclusions look good in books and encyclopaedias, even as study material for future research, but they do not contribute real, quantifiable value to society.

The problem is how to value profitability, or rather, why value things only in terms of economic profitability. If we were to think only in terms of money, efficiency, results, there would be many aspects and even people that would seem useless to us and that we would discard because they are not profitable for society. But this vision would do a disservice to the already self-interested and utilitarian society we are building.

Without Anthropology we would not know man, without Philosophy we would not have asked ourselves the why of things, without Sociology we would not understand how human beings relate to each other, without Art we would not value creativity or the abstract aspects of life.

A youth centre is not profitable, each minor costs society about £100 a day, £36,500 a year, but the community makes every effort to ensure that the young people who have ended up there are able to obtain sufficient tools to integrate into society and be good men in the future. And I can think of many other examples like this one. We cannot think in terms of profitability when what is at stake is the person.

It is very sad that we are only able to pay attention when life is measured in figures. Institutions such as ours devote enormous efforts to defend and foster the well-being in homes without which the individual would not achieve the balance necessary to survive in this world that demands so much profitability.

Digital strategy for families

Fear of technology in the home should not paralyse us, much less leave us behind. We must be well aware of its advantages and disadvantages in order to use it correctly and get the best out of it. Experts say that good training and joint use by all members of the family help as everyone learns at the same time and the technology becomes a more natural part of the home.

Again the word training. Once again, we insist that if planning is necessary to manage the home, a digital strategy is needed to incorporate technologies into the home and has to be an important part of that plan. What company in today’s world that wishes to progress has not already thought about its digital strategy? Well, the home is no exception.

We could think that this is a fad and stay on the sidelines, but the truth is that realistically speaking, the world has changed and the way of life is different. Sooner or later technology comes into our lives. There is a large part of our daily lives that can no longer be done in any other way. We buy flights from our mobile phone, do our shopping with a simple App, book a table in a restaurant, make medical appointments… And increasingly people turn on lights, lower blinds, heat their house and clean with a simple click or by asking the virtual assistant.

Training. Training is necessary because the information is power. Tristan Harris, the former head of ethics at Google and one of the protagonists of the documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, says that it is not only the technology industry that needs to know how social networks work, this information is available to everyone. In order to be freer and avoid being controlled, everyone should know how the big technology companies work, what their intentions are and what they want from us.

One of the experts who participated in the launch of our book in Madrid, Maria José Monferrer, created AIVERSE, a foundation with the aim of educating, training and familiarising families with artificial intelligence. That AI is not scary, that it is an attractive sector and that it opens the doors to a world of future employment possibilities for today’s teenagers who, due to lack of knowledge, only see technology as a form of entertainment, when it is a great opportunity.

We will talk about all this and much more in the upcoming launches of our book The Home in the Digital Age that we have already planned. The first will be virtual, with the Universidad Panamericana de México and in Spanish. Next Monday 24 January at 18.00h British time. To connect here is the link.

And the second one will be in person, in London, at the House of Commons next Monday 7th February, invited by Miriam Cates MP. The keynotes will be Stephen Davies, who is one of the authors of the book and head of education at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Tom Harrison, Director of Education at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues at the University of Birmingham, and author of the book Thrive: How to cultivate character so your children can flourish online.

If you want to keep up to date with our activity, in addition to subscribing to this blog, you can follow us on our social networks. Don’t forget to add a comment to this post if you have something to say and hopefully we’ll have the chance to meet again in 2022.

Hope

We were just starting to lead a relatively normal life when the new threat arrived in our lives. Omicron, once again, forces us to take extreme precautions, to be cautious with hugs and even to cancel some family gatherings in the coming days.
Even if the situation leads us to fall into discouragement, I would like to send with this last post of the year a brief message of HOPE, even at the risk of sounding corny.

Be mentally strong, even if pessimism gets the better of you, find the strength to spread joy, which is truly contagious. Nothing and nobody deserves that, precisely at this time of year, we feel sad. The promise of Christmas, of living what is important, of starting a new year, must win the battle against the virus. It is true that it is robbing us of trips, family moments, meetings with friends, but sooner or later we will get it back.

Let’s take advantage of this situation to get the best out of ourselves, to get to know ourselves even better, to live from the inside out, to reflect on our current life and consciously decide whether this is the lifestyle we want to embrace or whether we have been dragged into it until today.

Let us live the present with joy, yes, with the joy of feeling alive, of being alive.
And let’s dream, let’s dream a lot. May 2022 begin with new projects, new habits that help us to value what is important, which as we at Home Renaissance Foundation well know, what is important is usually the forgotten, the apparently unprofitable, the invisible, but at the same time what is essential to survive and overcome this and other crises that will come in the future.

Make home mean more than ever and love yours very much because it will be what you will have and keep forever.