Dek Ingraham is the Technology Projects Specialist at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council (GPAC). GPAC is the leading voice for arts and culture across the Greater Pittsburgh region, driving the political, financial, and professional support for the sector. AMT Lab contributor Anna Okuda sat down to ask Dek about apps on his phone including ones he suggests for arts managers.
AO: What are the apps you use every day and why do you like them?
DI: I've outsourced almost all of my routine organizational tasks to my phone. I'm going to be in big trouble if I ever lose it! It has become the central hub for all of the other systems that I use both for home and for work. All of my various gadgets from my Amazon Echo to my work desktop are centralized on my phone. Over the last few years, it has evolved from a center of information to a control center for real-world interactions. Probably not surprisingly, the built-in mail and messaging apps get a lot of use. I like the simplification of all of my email communications arriving in once place. Between all of the different hats that I wear, I'm monitoring six different email accounts, so this helps me stay on top of my communications. I couldn't live without my Google calendar. It pulls together my various calendars, both personal and professional, along with family calendars so I know what's going on, no matter what hat I'm currently wearing. The LogMeIn and SalesForce apps are always useful too - they let me access any information from my work desktop or my organization's CRM database anywhere I am.
I use my phone to live better and more healthily. I have several different home automation apps as I'm having fun experimenting with retrofitting my house to be a smart home. It's amazing what comfort comes from geofencing my house so that the lights automatically come on when I get home or being able to program a natural sunrise/sunset cycle to help regulate sleep/wake cycles. There are also several health apps that get a lot of usage including MyFitnessPal. It's easy to forget to take care of yourself when you're busy. Between logging calories and exercise with this app and my Apple Watch nagging me to stand up and stretch, it helps me be a little more conscious of my own wellbeing.
AO: Is there an app that surprised you with its usefulness?
DI: You can probably see from my screenshot that I love to keep things organized and orderly. I installed an app a few years ago that I absolutely love. It's called CircleBack. It sooths the control/organization beast inside me by de-duping, merging, and completing my contacts. It combines all of my various contact lists across my different accounts and then connects to social media through my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts to match and merge duplicates and keep the contact information up to date automatically when one of my contacts changes information on one of those social networks. It has a companion app called ContactSaver that automatically collects information from email signatures to add/update contacts in my list.
AO: Is there an app you think developers should be working on?
DI: I would love to see my phone get smarter about context. I want it to be smart enough to reconfigure itself to its current usage. We're seeing the beginnings of that with Apple. You may notice that at the bottom of the iPhone screen, apps will be suggested to you based upon your usage history time of day, and location. For instance, when I'm riding to the office in the morning, at the same place in my commute everyday, LogMeIn will pop up as a suggested app because I always use it to get my desktop up and running so that it’s ready when I get in. I would like to see an expansion of that kind of pattern and location recognition combined with the ability for the phone to become more useful and streamlined depending upon its situation. It would be wonderful to arrive at a meeting and have my phone pull up all of the relevant information related to it or to have my phone silenced automatically when I arrive at a performance venue or have my camera automatically at the ready when I visit the zoo. I see that as the future of this technology--delivering the information and services when and where you need them without the need to search for it.
AO: If you could recommend one app to arts managers, what would it be?
DI: With all of my love of tech and automation, this one may come as a surprise. The Breathe app on my Apple Watch has become incredibly valuable. It's so simple. It just pops up throughout the day and takes you through a simple breathing exercise. It is a great reminder to stop and take a moment to get some perspective. Arts managers are some of the most hardworking and dedicated people I've ever met. Even if the reminder has to come from a piece of technology, it is important for us all to take a human and humane moment for ourselves to just breathe.