We are the Digital Hub

In 2001, Steve Jobs "introduced the computer as the digital hub" (http://youtu.be/9046oXrm7f8). Ten years later, the computer was demoted to "device" status when Steve introduced iCloud, calling the cloud "the new digital hub"(http://youtu.be/gfj7UgCMsqs). The hub is where all our information is stored and where it's most easily accessible. This makes a lot of sense in the Internet of Things, when all our tools are connected and controllable via the Internet.

But I propose Steve was wrong. We - not the cloud - are the new hubs.

In this ever-connected world, I regularly have my iPhone in my pocket. Unless I'm physically holding it or sleeping, my iPhone never leaves my pocket. My MacBook Pro is always ready to go and only off when I'm not working (which is one day a week). My iPad is always at the ready - heaven forbid it's not charged.

I wear a Fitbit Force on my wrist for fitness tracking. Maybe I'm an anomaly, but one of my friends has a Nike Fuelband and another friend's mother just ordered a Jawbone Up. Wearables are the future.

Each one of these devices is constantly beaming or receiving information to and from the Internet. My Fitbit stats are all available in a dashboard. My iPhone is always receiving email, and each one feels more pressing than the last. Every email yells at us to do something now, and despite all the stuff that we have to help us maintain more control over our lives, it feels like we're constantly out of control.

Even at the end of the day, when I hope to wind down with a friend and watch some Netflix, Facebook or Google are checking out what I'm watching and using the data to deliver ad content to me next time I use either of their services. I can't even read articles in a service like Pocket or read books on my Kindle without giving up my personal information up - things as sensitive as how quickly I read my favorite content on a Sunday afternoon.

And the data we're giving up is getting more personal. Fitbit knows what I weigh, how active I am, and can reasonably guess how many staircases are in my home. The Nest learning thermostats can likely tell when you're on vacation.

It's all so......pervasive.

That's because we are the new hub. Our technology is centred around the Internet, but more importantly, it's centred around us.

Our technology knows us. It mines us for more information about our lives. Facebook probably knows more about my awkward teen years than I do, and Google gets all those awkward questions we're too afraid to ask other people.

We often complain that we can't take time off, but I would argue it's because we don't turn off: when we're on, our stuff is on. Disconnecting from the digital world is getting harder and harder, and it's up to us to decide how we eliminate the noise in our lives. It used to be that turning the computer off was all we needed; now, it's a little more complicated.

I'm not here to say technology is evil. Technology is great. I love the tools and the way they enable us to live our lives. Without technology, I'd be out of work. The thing is, it's more like red wine: a little is great, a couple glasses is a buzz, and drinking it constantly is a problem. Like alcoholism, there are negative effects for us individually and collectively when we over-binge on technology.

Maybe I'm a former app reviewer who's bitter and tired of the noise, but don't you get tired of it all too?

In the second part of this series, we'll return with a look at how to disconnect from our digital selves and recharge.

This post was written by Nathan Snelgrove (http://www.twitter.com/nathansnelgrove). Nathan is a designer, writer, and photographer at Wildfire Studios (http://www.wildfirestudios.ca), his creative firm in Guelph, Ontario.