technology | mindwi.se edit

Digital downsizing, Simple computer, Simple phone, Backup, Daily websites

Social media, 2 minutes, Mess, No surf, Not connected, Gadgets, Technology will save us, right?, Tech poisoning, The Social Dilemma, Empty view, No app required

My love-hate relationship with technology makes me one of those that says It used to be way better back in the days. I despise 95% of the current Internet, polluted by merchants, marketers, scammers and/or by bad programmers, focused on the wrong thing: selling you stuff or selling you directly.

A dumpster fire combined with the all-you-can-trash gadget trend is a recipe for disaster. And it shows. It's a pure illustration of our modern tendency to not respect what Mother Nature loaned to us.


Digital downsizing

Data is flowing from everywhere. Overwhelmed, I needed a purge from all the things and habits accumulated through time. Being light starts with letting go of things.

Actions taken

I used to hoard pics, music, apps. I used to neglect my privacy. I used to read way too much junk on Internet. I used to consume all the time, almost never create. I used to be distracted. Now, I minimize my data, value my privacy, focus on the essential and write all the time.

It is easy to have drawers full of digital junk. I used to have way too many gadgets, a Chromebook, two MacBooks, an eReader, two external hard drives, a printer, all that stuff. Now, I only have a laptop and a phone. That's it.


Simple computer

Current: MacBook Air (11-inch, Early-2015), 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5, 4 GB of memory, 128 GB of SSD.

On the shelf for now: MacBook Air M1 (2020). Thinking about selling it right now.

It is used for: eBooks, emails, blogging, light web browsing, budgeting and music.

With those apps:

I am truly satisfied with all those apps. Most of them are minimal and streamlined. I don't feel influenced by the Internet anymore as I feel disconnected from it instead of permanently connected.

MacBook Air (11-inch, Early-2015)

This computer holds so much in so little space. Perfect full-size keyboard, USB-A ports, Magsafe power adapter, minimal weight 2.4 lbs, better than average 9-hr battery life (and it is user replaceable). Full specs on EveryMac.com

Reference material: Cheapskate's Guide to Computers and the Internet, Nick Wignall - How a Digital Declutter Massively Boosted My Productivity, Carl Barenburg - Minimal Email Setup, The Plain Text Project - Links, The Minimalists - Dealing with Digital Clutter, The Minimalists - 181 | Mindful (podcast), Cal Newport - Digital Minimalism (book). To get more information and tools on how to keep your digital life private, PrivacyTools is a great place to start.


Simple phone

Current: iPhone XS 64GB. Tried to replace it with an iPhone SE (2016), Punkt MP02 or the Nokia 225, but it failed because the camera is meaningful with my children.

Phone plan: 100 minutes, unlimited text messages and 250 MB monthly, provided by Public Mobile for $15/month, but reduced to $6/month at the moment (with referrals and loyalty).

It is used strictly for: phone calls, text messages, notes, music and camera.

From a smartphone to a dumb phone: no custom apps whatsoever, empty home screen, all notifications turned off (except texts from wife and all calls), grey scale filter.

Phone home screen and app library

Remove all dependencies and created more friction so the phone itself is somewhat of a pain to use and there is very little to do on it. If I unlock it, I'll be faced with fewer options. I might just lock it back within seconds, which is the whole point of dumbify your phone.

My biggest motive to simplify the phone was to stop using it in front of my children.

To read: Art of Manliness - Break Your Smartphone Habit


Backup

On a 50 GB iCloud plan ($1.29+tx/month): 16GB of photos and documents.

On a 32 GB USB flash drive (that I got free): 25 GB of music.

That's it. Anything else (messages, emails, phone backup) is worthless.

Don't over complicate things.


Daily websites

In my quest to minimize my digital dependency and the time spent in front of a screen instead of reading a book, riding a bike or raising my children, I reduced the number of websites I visit daily to a minimum. Most of them are text-based, low attention grabber and non-commercial biased.


Social media

How the fuck do people still use social media?

We know is it a huge time waster, a major (and bad) influencer in your habits and actions, a reprogrammer for your brain, a mental equivalent of eating fast food 3 times a day, a lost focus for your life, a negative social stimulant to endlessly compare yourself to others, a place where jealousy is king, where advertisement is omnipotent. And still, people are scrolling, and scrolling, each day on them.

If cigarettes are addictive and can destroy your lungs or your health in general, social media is addictive too and it can destroy your mind.

I'm not pretending to be better than you, but just give it a try; let go of your accounts and go read a book or something meaningful, create interactions in real life, volunteering in a cause, exit the madness race of our society.


2 minutes

Don’t fill that minute, or two, you have in your over-busy schedule with more screen time, unless it is truly meaningful, like writing down some thoughts, as I am doing right now.

Commit to no more "take the phone and see what will entertain me in my boredom".

Commit to only use your phone to engage a communication with one person only, not to show your next status to the world.

Commit to use all those extra 2 minutes, where you used to pick up your phone, to stretch, think freely or, why not, kiss the one you love.

Commit to a better self-esteem in real life, not by showing a fake you to others that barely care anyway.

Commit to simply live like a human being.

Technology as a tool, not as a pacifier.


Mess

Any way you look at, you are surrounded by news, facts, opinions, videos, streams, feeds, influences, pollution, useless noise. World is a mess.

Open a news website and don't read anything, just overview the website as a whole. It's a mess of pictures to grab your attention, big-letter titles to have you click on them, small text descriptions to force you to dig wider and abuse your time. On the very low level of necessity, this is all bullshit. If news were really down to the point of the essential only, it would be somewhat close to Legible News. You don't need to know trivial news, hell most of the news, because it doesn't change a dime in your life, except the fact that you won't waste your time anymore. Internet is just fast food for your brain, look for alternatives.

To see clearly in life, I decided to let go of messy stuff on Internet, the one that tries hard to get your attention and doesn't learn your to think better and replace it with meaningful experiences.

Here is a list of down to earth creations:
A person of good intention looks to change the world. A person of good character looks within. -Alain Watts

No surf

I’m not a social media user. I’m also trying to avoid news as a whole and reducing my screen time. This morning, in front of a coffee cup, sitting at the table, I unlock my smartphone and I got stuck by a realisation: I no longer commit to any websites. No surf is ahead. I lock it back and start to write and be creative.

Will it last? No idea.

But I can feel detached emotionally from the need of being entertained by others through this glowing screen. All I want right now, at 4:30am is to align my misaligned thoughts and share them more than ever before.

It is difficult to achieve, but I am close enough and I know it. It reminds me this reading from David Cain: It’s time to put the internet back into a box in the basement.


Not connected

Christmas of 2020 was unusual for almost everybody, just blame the pandemic. We were not connected together physically, but innovation allows us to be connected all the time. Video calls and other means are here to stay. Unless, like me this year, your router died on Christmas day.

This means no connection, except on our mobile phones. But since we have a monthly plan including only 250 MB of data, not a chance to stream movies, to video call people, to get entertained/bored online or get instant answers on everything.

As I’m typing this on my computer, I started to feel something different. The constant connection to the outside world we have on tap is not a thing right now. Like it used to be in 1999 with 56k modem on a wired computer, in the basement, where the phone line was used exclusively to reach the WWW. Every moment was counted, every requests send through the web browser had a purpose. Sending a video, scrolling infinitely a web page with 100+ pictures or streaming a full movie were not common things.

It’s easy to verse in nostalgia and only remember the positive sides of things without telling the full story. In this case, yes, it was painfully slow and some of you will consider the Web 1.0 as the wild west. I technically consider the current Web as a wild west, full of algorithms, advertisements, scams and other useless elements, bloated in unoptimized web pages to display useless information about people we don’t care on pointless platforms.

I try not to be too critical towards the web, but having time off from the network of networks is a good thing for me.

Speaking of innovation… I was referring above as innovation the way start-ups have to promote themselves to sell new trendy apps, like Zoom per example. The book The Innovation Delusion is a great place to start to remove the varnish on this buzzword that is innovation. Let’s talk about innovation-speak now.


Gadgets

In a world of abundance, I wonder what we can find to all these gadgets we buy. Those who are supposed to simplify our life, save us time and make us happy.

Who really needs:

So many possible break points, where technology promises you the best, but only complicates your existence otherwise so simple.

Why should not we change direction and apply low-tech guidelines?

Am I the only one to find stupid technological innovations that companies are trying to push down our throat? I am terribly tired of hearing about the false benefits of technological progress. I do not want to leave my refrigerator, my car or other device operating at the electrons to the good care of a tech company.

Technology dependence is undoubtedly a social drug. Adding a dose in each corner of our life doesn't help to get rid of problems, doesn't help focusing on our human experience. Quite the opposite.

To learn more about low-tech, the best reference is undoubtedly Low-Tech Magazine. There is also Green IT and simply.


Technology will save us, right?

I am not against technology as such, although I think we give too much importance in its presumed role in safeguarding the environment. With some examples, it can easily demonstrate that technology is at the service of consumption not at the service of preserving our ecosystems.

An electric car is still a car

Despite all the good wishes of Elon Musk and the bubbling industry of transport electrification, a transport, whether electric or combustion, remains a transportation that must be reconsidered in its entirety. A current combustion car that is removed from traffic to place its occupants in other sustainable transportation solutions still and always better than replacing it with a new electric car.

I have always said: we are not dependent on oil, we are dependent on the car.

Changing your car is not complicated. Going without it is a lot more difficult. That's why the electric car is growing and draws attention. Instead of changing his habits, we continue in the same good old dependency: build life around the possession of a car.

A smartphone that consumes like two refrigerators

IT has been revolutionised often since the 1980s. The most recent is undoubtedly the advent of the smart phone that allows to be hyper-connected without stopping. This allows almost everything to go faster and optimised. However, optimisation often refers to an increase in global activity rather than a compression of the same activities on a smaller period of time.

To handle all this bubbling, the cloud is a powerful allied to a smart phone that requires a lot of energy to work. "If the famous cloud was a country, it would have arrived 4th after Japan, for electricity consumption."

References: Lacroix and La Presse

Energy efficiency does not mean reducing the use of

David Owen in his book Green Metropolis speaks of the Jevons paradox who refers exactly to this. It mentions that when technology reduces the use of energy per unit consumed (for example the number of liters 100 kilometers travelled for an automobile), the total energy use of the planet increases. As the cost reduction makes it possible to develop new market (developing countries), but also helps to strengthen already established markets (keep home at work for developed countries).

This applies for just about every domain. Technology democrats the increased use of energy on the planet. Negawatt, a power unit that quantifies a power "less" (that is, the power saved by a change of technology or behavior) has been precisely imagined to attempt to counter this "phenomenon" and Inform people about the dangers of increased energy consumption.

The next time you see a label for the eco-energy virtue of a product, ask yourself the question if it will make it more useful instead of considering more sober alternatives. Some examples of replacement of technological goods to low-tech:

Fluocompact bulbs

They have been present for more than 10 years, fluocompact bulbs are still not synonymous with sensible consumption because of the toxic content thereof. Lots of governments have banned incandescent bulbs for their too high consumption, but the reality replacing these classic bulbs are rather on the side of the LEDs (light-emitting diode), the market took the opportunity to inflate the prices of the latter. A simple bulb cost less than a dollar while this new technology is often sold beyond $5 the unit, sometimes $10.

Although prices tend to decline with competition, the mere fact that the market to transition from the incandescent bulb to fluocompact before switching to LED (a technology of the 1970s used widely in electronics) shows that the economic interest passed before the interest of the environment. Most high-cost fluorescent bulbs sold to consumers have been discarded and replaced by LEDs after only a few years, while fluocompact bulbs were still fully functional.

In short...

Whatever technology, you have to go back to the base and remember that too often, we mix technology and marketing. In order to better change a change, the marketing of a product is altered by publicists in order to consume more than the normal level.


Tech poisoning

I sometimes wonder if people do have a smartphone not only as an object of social acceptance, but also to fill their dead time. Infinite Scroll allows you to navigate without stopping in search of the life of others or on the mercantile spaces of e-commerce websites.

I am personally born with a keyboard in the hands and I had the chance to discover the internet relatively early. The computer was synonymous with infinite possibilities, by all the knowledge that could be found there. It was 20 years ago, when the computer was confined to a fixed place, where the Internet was only a restrictive means of communication and where the real world was free from high tech. Now internet is omnipresent.

The technology is invasive. Invasive, not only because the corporations decided to, but also because each of us have left the door open for abuse. However, it is never too late to return to its own decisions.

From now on, I will trust the 6 commandments of the modern, but realistic man:
  1. Possess a technological object if and only if the disadvantages have been evaluated before use;
  2. Time spent using a technological object must remain under a defined standard;
  3. The lives of others does not interest me to the point of not living my own life;
  4. Communicate is done with real conversations, not with "posts" or "likes";
  5. The use of a technological object must not interfere with a real interaction;
  6. Dead times will not be filled with infinite scrolling.

Concretely, I will:

Even if my equipment consists only of a smartphone and a computer, it is in the use we make of these objects that our daily life has been transformed for several years, without really making us happier.

I dream of coming back in time for some spheres of my daily life where people live the moment instead of being anxious of the past and stressed in the future, fearing of their public image and exasperated from their time schedule.


The Social Dilemma

World is a messed up place to live. I don't believe in our ability to regroup and collaborate to save us from us. I'm sorry to say that out loud, but I lost hope in humanity.

The Social Dilemma is a reflection on the duality between two truths, both false, where people complain, harass, kill and threaten the other side. All because of a non-regulated giant tech industry that is trying too much to make money on digital slaves. It is not only about Facebook, twitter, reddit, instagram and other bullshit websites. It is about communicating the wrong way, in gigantic group of users, within echo chambers.

“There are only two industries that refer to their customers as 'users': illegal drugs and software. " — Edward Tufte

Even though Netflix also has an AI behind its recommendations, at least you pay monthly for the service, thus you can choose to opt out. Or delete your user in your account and create a new one and start fresh from any persuasion from a computer, somewhere in a datacenter owned by a corporation.

In the end, even after watching the docudrama, do whatever you want in your life. But suffer with the consequences of your actions and decisions somebody else is making for you. If you are ok to be brainless, go ahead. But please don't arm anybody else in the process.

Lefsetz Letter published an article about it.

Reading materials: Andrew Sillivan - I used to be a human being, Patrick Lagacé - Les hauts et les bas de l'homme débranché, David Cain - It’s Time to Put The Internet Back Into a Box in The Basement.


Empty view

I just dumbified my phone to a point where there is very little to do on it. Like everybody else, I used to check the screen every 2 minutes or so, to see if any new notifications arrived to glorify my life. Now that I turned off all notifications (including text messages), there is nothing to seek. The screen sits empty all the time.

There is no custom app to use. I vowed to use it only for: phone calls, text messages (when I manually open the app to check it), picture taking, write notes (for myself) and listen to music (like it is an iPod). That's it.

It feels good not to rely on my phone to be rewarded anymore.

The end goal is to give up on the always-connected, never-satisfied feeling provided by technology.


No app required

Hey nerdy app developers,

No, I don't want your apps. I recently decided that a digital downsizing was the right thing to do in this crazy world.

I specifically don't want my attention to be hijacked by flashy, cute little apps that are connected to the cloud that can enhance my life. Guess what? No app is essential, even if you strictly think the opposite. You can go without a map app in real life, you can go without your constant connection with emails, you can even go without knowing about everybody else's life on Facebook. Just breathe and remember that all generations before us did survive without technology, just at a slower pace.

A slower pace.

It resonate to me like a big "Slow the fuck down".

In recent years, we have been forged to be addicted to tech gadgets on the premise that it will save us time. That is probably the biggest fraud on the modern society. Every single invention set to make our life easier by saving time is just not true. We constatly fill the void left by so-called improvements with newer things because human nature is affraid of emptyness.

“All of man’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room”
-Blaise Pascal

So, for your own sanity, remove all apps and rename your smartphone as a dumbphone. It should be nothing more than a tool, like a good multi-screwdriver. Don't waste your life looking down. Look up the sky and live a meaningful one.