An experiment in unplugging

This weekend I experimented with unplugging from the internet almost entirely. I literally unplugged my cable modem and kept my phone off except for a handful of times to check for voice messages in case anyone called (it was those moments when I happened to check email as well that make the disconnect only “almost entirely”). I pulled the plug Saturday late morning and didn’t plug back in until this morning (Monday). One of the lessons learned was how little time it takes to catch up on email, Facebook and even my RSS feeds after a couple of day. Maybe 10 minutes. To take in all of the pertinent information and communication that I might need after being offline for almost 48 hours. And how much time, if I had been online, would have I have spent looking to see if there was anything new or interesting? And if there wasn’t how likely might I be to then look at any number of other websites or Youtube? I would have spent at least several hours just dicking around because I sat down to check email or Facebook. Several hours for 10-15 minutes worth of processing effort.

Now, I know this. I knew this before. And I don’t have to face hundreds of emails a day like some people. Still the demonstration helped clarify just how little time I actually need to spend online. I wasn’t superproductive this weekend, it didn’t turn me into Super Grad Student, but I did get a number of my comps questions drafted and re-read Jill Dolan’s Feminist Spectator as Critic and I watched a movie (the original The Wicker Man) and read a big chunk of David Brin’s new novel Existence and took a lovely, long bath with a glass of wine and all in all had a decent weekend. It was a bit lonely and I probably could have done better at seeking out some company. Also, I could have/should have gone for a walk or done something outside or played guitar or composed some music or half a dozen other things but the experience was a positive one and I will definitely be repeating it. If not every weekend, at least regularly.

Left Facebook

At 10 PM on June 1, 2010 I deleted my Facebook account. These are a few of my reactions in the first couple of hours. They are not logical, nor am I terribly proud of them. Talk about a fucking first world problem!!

  • they’ll forget me.
  • someone is making a clever statement and I’m missing it.
  • someone just posted an interesting video and I won’t see it.
  • I won’t be able to know what’s going on in the lives of some people I care a lot about. Or those I don’t really care about but am occasionally curious to know what’s going on. Actually, not really curious about some, but will occasionally find them talking about something interesting.
  • they won’t see me being clever/deep/interesting/flirty/funny/passionate and if nobody sees me being those things, am I?
  • it’s alright for Jay and Juliet, they have families and full lives and friends and family that they see regularly. Except for Jen and Erin and occasionally Vanessa, I don’t really have friends that I spend time with here in RI.
  • I’m hungry. (Nothing to do with Facebook, just noting the fact.)
  • people I like won’t take the time to read this. (Melissa, Joya, Jay, Juliet and Beth, I’m not talking about you. Nor am I talking about you.
  • damn them for being so lazy and not bothering to check out my blogs and photos and Twitter bon mots and podcasts just because they don’t live inside the Facebook ecosystem.
  • wait, have I always been this whiney?
  • fucking downstairs neighbor is smoking and it’s blowing into my room and I don’t like the smell only partly because it makes me want to smoke and I don’t do that anymore. Or rarely and only with certain people and I’m talking about cigarettes here people not cannibis and it never tastes as good as I think it will and more than missing smoking I miss enjoying smoking. Nanotechnology to fix us from cancer and bad habits where are you and why aren’t you invented yet!
  • well, if I was still on Facebook, I wouldn’t have written this and probably would have spent way too much time coming up with precious and twee song quotes to impress the ladies with.
  • I’m swearing a lot in this post. Wonder why?
  • ok. I’m going to bed now.


Leaving Facebook Part 2

No Facebook

As I prepare to leave Facebook, I want to make it as easy as possible for my friends to follow my activities on Flickr, my blogs, and Twitter. So I’ve added all the feeds I want to make available to Friendfeed and will invite people to follow me there. Additionally, since many people still don’t use RSS, I am going to make an effort to educate people about how you can use readers to keep up with websites and blogs. I came across a fairly old, cheesy, but informative video that I posted on Facebook and will also make some further suggestions for RSS readers in the few weeks before I delete my account.

Leaving Facebook Part 1

No Facebook

I am deleting my Facebook account on June 1, 2010. While I don’t necessarily want to, I feel that the company’s policy about privacy and the ways they manage my data are increasingly problematic and the difficulty of leaving that particular ecosystem will only grow harder the longer I stay. So I’ve given my friends notice and will be collecting contact info from those who I genuinely want to keep in touch with. I’m doing a few things in preparation for this move. I’ve deleted the Facebook app from my phone in order to help me get used to spending less time checking it and, last night, as I began to get some IM contacts from people, I realized that iChat wasn’t going to cut it for keeping up with people through IM, so I reinstalled Adium and set that up with all of my various accounts (Gmail, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, so that I can stay in touch with as many people through those systems as I can. Unfortunately, Adium doesn’t yet support audio or video on these services, but the fact that it supports way more protocols is worth it. I can also switch over to iChat for those few people who I do actually (though very occasionally) use audio or video chat.

Chatroulette Log 1

6:05pm – 6:45pm, Sunday March 21


I will not disconnect from anyone myself. Whenever someone comes on screen, I’ll smile and wave. I will not type first, but wait for the other person(s) to disconnect or begin to communicate.

1 guy. No response. Disconnected. 1 guy. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy (no face). Disconnected before wave. 1 guy. Disconnected before wave. 1 person. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy. Chatted a bit 6:10 – 6:11. He was from Manchester, England. 1 guy. Touching himself. Disconnected too fast. 1 person. Off camera. Disconnected after wave. 1 guy. In shadows. Disconnected after wave. 1 young woman/girl, disconnected before wave. 1 “be right back” sign. 1 guy – no working cam. Chatted a bit:

Connected Partner: cam out Partner: here You: so you can see others they just can’t see you? Partner: grrrrrrmmmmmmbl Partner: not always You: so what do you do on here? this is my first time checking it out. Partner: checking out also but crapcam Partner: think its bad connection You: what kind of computer? Partner: anyway nothing special here Partner: pc acer Partner: lots of kids Partner: feeling real old You: yeah You: i keep wondering when whoever owns this is going to get into deep trouble with kids having access to it Partner: luckily have no more kids here))) You: especially considering the amount of guys who seem to take this as an invitation to . . . er, “show off” Partner: who s getting profit out of this? Partner: yeah why not women? You: I don’t know. maybe we are all being recorded for and they are going to blackmail some of the people based on what they do here You: that would be one way to generate income Partner: great You: where are you from? Partner: earth You: good answer. 🙂 Partner: europe Partner: arent you? You: from earth? You: yes You: but north america. united states. rhode island. providence. east side. Partner: east side well well Partner: i west side Partner: brussels Partner: which is east of rhode island Partner: confusing no You: 🙂 You: well, it could be west if you went the long way around Partner: i prefer the long way overland You: one of my favorite bands is from belgium You: dEUS Partner: aaaaaa Partner: a band Partner: not a brand Partner: of beer Partner: yes dEUS from antwerp Partner: sorry for missing cam. Partner: i tried to make a drawing You: no prob. like i said, just checking it out. and don’t mind chatting a bit. You: a drawing of what? Partner: myself Partner: mm let me see, like yourself, shorter beard more hairy on top no glasses Partner: Partner: and grey(( Partner: no not gandalf! You: well, grey is better than balding. You: 🙂 Partner: one gets used Partner: turning grey Partner: is this thing a hype? Partner: or will this be our future Partner: world as a village Partner: without pubs(((( You: i think it’s hyped up. it’s too boring and people aren’t actually all that friendly. it seems that most people using it are looking for a certain kind of experience to watch You: a world without pubs would be a sad thing indeed! Partner: well we all are kind of voyeurs no? You: true. Partner: and its safer talking to someone here than on undergroundtrain You: maybe. but there’s a hollowness to this. a lack of repercussions that sees to short-circuit actual connection. You: human contact always involved some sense of risk in the real world: of hurt feelings, of misunderstandings, etc You: here, i just press f9 and on to another person Partner: badbreath You: that too Partner: well i m off to bed, night at this side of atlantic You: have a good night. take care Partner: same 2u Partner: where is the exit? You: the pause button You: or f8 Partner: thx))) > Your partner disconnected. Reconnecting…

Disconnected before wave. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy touching himself. Disconnected before wave. 1 guy eating a pickle. Disconnected before wave. 2 women. Chatted:

Connected Partner: she likes you You: she doesn’t even know me. 🙂 Partner: how do you look i mean You: Thanks. You’re both pretty darn cute yourselves Partner: from? Partner: thanks Partner: =))))))))))))) You: Rhode Island. You: you? Partner: guess You: England? You: Is it in Europe? Partner: half Europe/// You: Can’t really see it well, not focusing You: chicken? your from roostervania? Partner: from country of roosters You: so . . . i should be able to get this from your clues right. You: Remember, American public education not so good at the geography and learning about other countries (much to your chagrin) Partner: frozen Partner: freaks You: greenland Partner: your tea is teasty? You: indeed You: both tasty and teasty You: though it may be time to switch to guinness You: cool magnets Partner: with our symbolics You: yeah. i figured. You: holland? Partner: we’re from russia You: ahh. You: sorry. You: dumb americans > Your partner disconnected.


I think Chatroulette is hyped up and will bore people quickly. It reinforces the notion that if you give guys anonymity and a camera, there are a lot of them who don’t realized that seeing their genitals just makes the rest of us laugh and, at least in this day and age, serves as a point of humor rather than shocking or disturbing us. Especially if you go into the situation, like you would logging into Chatroulette, expecting it. From a socialogical point of view, it’s fascinating to see how people interact and what they are trying to get out of something like this.

Have you bothered to check it out? What do you think?

Digging Through My RSS Feeds – iPhone Edition

Here’s the first in a series of posts sharing cool links that I’ve culled from my 400+ clippings in NetNewsWire.

Turn your iPhone into a document scanner
Send iPhone photos at full resolution
iPhone as multi-track recorder
Want to take better close-up pictures with your iPhone? There’s a case for that
A new form of storytelling/gameplay (I haven’t downloaded this yet, but will probably get it soon. I think there’s a huge space for new forms of storytelling in the coming years.)
Never got around to checking this out either. Have you thought about your iPhone and wifi security?
Getting your steampunk read on.
Not so much an iPhone product, but a cool way to keep your iPhone (or wallet or other electronic devices) safe from casual thieves at the beach

RSS Dependency

Hi, my name is LtL and I’m an RSS feedaholic.

Partly it’s due to the nature of my job and the fact that I sit at a computer, fairly bored and use various feeds as a distraction. Partly it’s because I use Newsgator’s feed-reader, NetNewsWire which allows me to keep my feeds synced between computer, iPhone, and web.

The problem is three-fold:

My attention span is decreasing and I find myself skimming headlines or synopsis instead of taking the time to read full articles.

Instead of reading any number of books that I keep on my iPhone (including works by Saki, whose short stories are perfect for reading when you only have a few minutes of time), I read (or skim) dozens of articles about the fabled Mac Tablet, or any number of articles from ScienceDaily that I don’t bother to really understand.

I file away hundreds of articles for future use in the “My Clippings” folder . . . and then rarely use or reference them in a productive manner.

To deal with these issues, I’m going to cull my feeds, keeping no more than 10 news feeds (the feeds I get from friends’ websites are exempt), and make a conscious effort to read the full articles instead of just skimming the headlines and pretending like I’ve learned something. I’m also going to remove NetNewsWire from my iPhone for at least 1 week to see if I really need to have continual access tech, news, and political feeds (I’m guessing I don’t). If my commute was a lengthy one, or I was going on a trip, I might want to have those updates on my phone, but let’s face it, if I’m not at home I’m at work and in both places I have a computer. If I’m out for several hours I certainly don’t need to see what TUAW has posted and I certainly don’t need to compulsively check my feeds on my iPhone when I’m in bed, or watching tv, etc.

Finally, I’m going to get rid of the 414 stories I’ve kept in the “My Clippings” folder by either saving them in a research folder on my computer, deleting them outright, or sharing them with you in a series of link posts that will be hitting the site over the next few days – so get ready for some major links lovin’ heading your way.

All of this is in service of identifying and changing habits that are not particularly useful in helping me focus and achieve my daily and weekly goals.

Several Links of Distinction

Amanda Marcotte has an excellent analysis of how Bristol Palin has been and continues to be used by the media and Sarah Palin.

Law? We don’t need no stinkin’ laws in order to arrest you! (via BoingBoing)

The future’s so bright it shines right into your brain.

Making the web readable: thoughts on design and the screen (which I am going to think about in terms of this site). (via Daring Fireball)

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