“I’m a big believer in open source, which is an ancient African phrase meaning ‘no, I will not fix your Windows computer for you.'”
Archive for April, 2009
Discussions about online technologies seems to linger (in my memory) around what’s bad about technology: Flaming, cyberbullying, and the loss of the human connection. All of these are valid arguments, but it’s lovely to come across a news item that points out the good news, such as this BBC News story about an American teenager who saved a British teenager’s life after chatting with him on Facebook.
I’ve been noticing a trend over the last few months. This trend has also correlated with my increasing use of the Internet. As people become more dependent on online technologies, they are also rebelling against what could become an addiction for many. It’s not enough to simply put your computer to sleep, because you will need that computer to do your work. You may need something that literally shuts off the distractions – email, Twitter, Facebook, and so on – for you.
In today’s Salon.com, Rebecca Traister writes:
Look, I am not proud. But I bet I am not alone in my near frantic desire to be released — for very brief periods, always with an escape hatch — from the tyranny of my own wandering attention. I may not have known it, but for some time, I have wanted something forceful, computerized and beyond the realms of my own self-determination to come and muffle the beeping, buzzing, ringing, flashing distractions of our technological age so I can get some goddamn work done.
Two programs shut off email and networking for you. The first, Freedom, is a one-year-old program you can download (sorry, Macs only) that will shut off your online access for anywhere between 5 minutes and 8 hours. The other program is a Google Lab called “Email Addict” that will allow you to choose to freeze your browser screen for 15 minutes so that you can no longer write any emails for that period of time.
This makes me wonder if we’ve reached a point of saturation in our dash to become a digital society. At what point are we becoming too distracted by technologies that were once time-savers?
UPDATE: I tried Freedom a few times over the last few days, while working on a paper for class (I didn’t want to be distracted by emails and browsing). It worked beautifully, and I’m a new convert to this charming new piece of software.
Maine–the first and only state to provide laptops to all of its public middle school students–has announced that it will now expand the program, providing laptops to all public school students in grades 7-12 throughout the state. The laptops are being provided by Apple on a 4-year lease at $242 per year.