Posts Tagged ‘offline’

Offline Weekends :: 21 – 22 Sept. 2013

21 / 22 Sept. 2013

– I want to replace my Fender Deluxe Reverb amp with the smaller Princeton model (yup, the one I sold to get the Deluxe). With no idea how much they cost, or what models are available, my first thought is to head for the website. Of course, that’s now off limits, so instead I made a phone call to GAK. The salesman and I discussed my old Princeton, my pedalboard, the current models available, and the merits of the forthcoming models. It was a more valuable experience than any solitary internet research could possibly have delivered.

– I was trying to get rid of a cold, so had a Berocca with my breakfast. I instinctively put an ice cube in it, which for some reason I thought was worthy of Tweeting. It seemed idiotic when I thought about it, twice as much so when I wrote it in my notebook, and ten times as much now. Even though I think it’s really valuable, Twitter is mostly vapid.

– Twitter again. I was listening to Autechre, and was struck by what a vital piece of information this was to share with the world. With no access to Twitter, I took a second to think about what I was actually trying to accomplish – I think I just wanted someone to talk to about some great music. Social networking seemed really sad all of a sudden. I texted a music-loving friend to recommend the group and a couple of their albums, he text back saying he’d give them a listen. I can’t wait to discuss them in person.

– The opening track from What Burns Never Returns, Don Caballero 3, has a section that sounds a bit like Zoot Allures, one of my favourite Zappa guitar pieces. I was satisfied to have made the connection, and couldn’t think why it was necessary to publish this information (which was my first instinct).

– Probably the best offline moment came on Sunday. I had a train delayed by half an hour, and without Reeder, Hacker News, or Twitter to entertain me, music was my only option. How completely fucking stupid that music is fourth on that list. I listened to the first Storm and Stress album, without distraction; it was a perfect experience of a wonderful record.

Internet Addiction :: Offline Weekends

After my awakening as an Internet Addict, I decided to start experimenting with my relationship to the Web. Following after my inspiration and taking a year off isn’t exactly compatible with my role as a Technologist at an internet company, but while my hands are tied during the week, the weekends are still mine to toy with. As such, I have decided to spend my weekends offline for a while to see what lessons I might learn, and with a bit of luck curb the problematic ‘Internet reflex’ I’ve developed. I’ll be transcribing any relevant scribblings and thoughts here after each offline weekend.

(As one caveat to my ‘offline’ experience, I’m permitting myself access to my iTunes Match account — although it’s an online service, it’s more like just having a massive iPod, and I don’t really think it’s relevant or restrictive to what I’m trying to achieve anyway. So there!)

Internet Addiction ::

Last Friday, I finally got round to watching the TED talk embedded above. It’d been sitting in a Chrome tab for a couple of weeks before that — 18 minutes repeatedly deferred in favour of bite sized online entertainment: some weird Twitter, another Kobe vs LeBron video on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram. Of course, I knew all about Paul Miller’s experiment in Internet abstinence from the time that it was announced (online, naturally) and followed his reports throughout the time he was ‘offline’, which I certainly found to be curious, but never anything more. A weird thing happened when I watched his talk, though — I really felt like I got what he was talking about. I’d read about all this stuff in his columns, but this time it really resonated.

Writing this now, I wonder if perhaps I subconsciously place greater value in communication that feels more tangible, like video shot in a lecture setting, than yet another online dispatch. I’m certainly curious about the shift in my ascription of credibility, but that’s tangental, for now at least. What really spoke to me about Paul’s talk was the feeling of stress, the inhibition of creativity, and the almost adversarial nature of his relationship with the Internet. It sounded unhealthy, and it sounded like my relationship with the Internet.

It dawned on me pretty quickly while watching the talk that I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. Paul talks about people not knowing what boredom is like any more, and he’s absolutely on the money — the slightest break in my concentration while trying to do something that requires some effort, and it’s CMD-space -> ‘t’ -> enter (open Twitter), or CMD-Tab -> CMD-T -> ‘n’ -> enter (switch to Chrome, open news.ycombinator.com in a new tab). These are very real, very practised neural reflexes — a mental ‘panic button’ that my brain pushes at the slightest hint of boredom, and often times in intellectually taxing situations.

My name is Zebedee and I’m an Internet addict.

This was an important realisation for me, and it’s something I feel the need to regain control over. It also sounds like perfect, if a little ironic, fodder for a recurring series of blog posts (of which this is the first) in which I attempt to understand my Internet problem, and chronicle my voyage of self discovery.