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Can you be wired and well-mannered?

We attended a conference last week in Orlando that centered on ubiquitous computing -- basically, the idea that the next generation of technology will be built upon devices you typically carry with you. (Here's the story that Bridget wrote about it.) We saw technology that use phones to test air quality around you, record medical information or even help maintain a long-distance relationship. Organizers call it the ``post desktop'' model of human and computer interaction.

That got us thinking about how attached we are already to our cellphones and how badly we behave. We're so obsessed with informing and checking in with the rest of the world that we forget about the people right in front of us.

You don't have to convince us about how great technology is -- but as Poked columnists, we also we want to do our part to remember the importance of balancing that with the way we treat others.

Bridget realized this during the conference while we were at dinner -- so much so, that when I said something funny, she asked permission to immediately share it with her brother, via text. Before you say how lame this sounds, think about the last time you've had an impulse to do the same.

It goes beyond manners at the dinner table. Why we have lost the ability to be patient about sharing information? And at what expense are we doing this? Those who text while driving are risking lives -- we'll admit that we've sneaked in a quick reply or read a text behind the wheel, and we're not proud of it.

Don't assume that our standards of behavior have fallen so far that people don't care if you're flipping through your e-mails during a meeting or checking fantasy football stats while you're waiting for dinner to be served.

So this week we're proposing a call to action to reform this atrocious behavior and giving you a challenge to put down the phone.

Before sitting down to dinner, put your ringer to silent and don't glance at it at the table.

And especially ignore that phone in the car. If it's too hard to resist the urge to text someone back, stick the phone in the trunk.

Try to see if you can make it for one week, and let us know how it goes. We'll let you know how well this experiment goes for us. Hopefully we can all try to train ourselves to be have better manners -- and sense -- while wired.

Oh, and if you're curious about the conference, check out this video I did with Bridget about it:


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