Bookmarked Cal Newport on Why We'll Look Back at Our Smartphones Like Cigarettes (GQ)
The computer scientist on his new book "Digital Minimalism," why workplaces may go email-free, and why the tech backlash is about to go mainstream.
In this interview with Cal Newport, he compares social media with fast food arguing that we are moving into a period of time when we will develop named philosophies to define our practices. For Newport, Digital Minimalism is one such philosphoy.

Digital minimalism is a clear philosophy: you figure out what’s valuable to you. For each of these things you say, “What’s the best way I need to use technology to support that value?” And then you happily miss out on everything else. It’s about additively building up a digital life from scratch to be very specifically, intentionally designed to make your life much better.

This is in contrast to digital maximalism.

[Maximalism] arose in the 1990s. The basic idea is that technological innovations can bring value and convenience into your life. So, you assess new technological tools with respect to what value or convenience it can bring into your life. And if you can find one, then the conclusion is, “If I can afford it, I should probably have this.” It just looks at the positives. And it’s view is “more is better than less,” because more things that bring you benefits means more total benefits. This is what maximalism is: “If there’s something that brings value, you should get it.”

Newport argues that regulation will not curb social media and that we instead need to understand that we do not really need them.

I’m a skeptic on a lot of privacy legislation, just because I’m a computer scientist who knows it’s very, very hard to even get a sensible definition of what privacy means. So, I personally don’t see the regulatory arena as being what’s gonna save us here. I think what’s gonna save us is this idea that we don’t need the giant walled garden platforms to attract the value of the internet. We would be fine if Facebook went away.

In a separate post, Newport makes the case for blogging and owning your own domain a possible response.

Slow social media and escaping the walled factories of industrial social media are two ways to step toward a more authentic social internet experience. They’re not, however, the only ways. As with my last post on this subject, I’m more interested in sparking new ways of thinking about your digital life than I am in providing you the definitive road map.

via Doug Belshaw

Replied to Issue [#327]: Happy New Year! by Doug Belshaw (Thought Shrapnel)

I had a bit of an epiphany when I realised that one of the main uses of AI is, or will be, voice assistants. In practice, that means a lot less time spent looking at displays and a lot more time interacting with devices using natural language. To do that, voice assistant need to know the context in which you operate, so they need to have data on you.

I'm not delighted to be handing over so much data to Google, but given their GDPR-compliant controls, I'm willing to give it a try. The Lenovo device is in our kitchen and has replaced our DAB radio, and the Onkyo speaker is in our bedroom. Both of them have hardware switches which mute the microphone when they're not being used.

I really am not sold on all this move to smart devices Doug. My wife recently purchased an iWatch and has taken to messaging directly from it. I now need to check if she is talking to her phone, watch or me. I have also noticed this on public transport. I have two particular reservations:

  1. What if everyone was talking at once? What would that look and sound like?
  2. What about the conversations that may not be appropriate for speaking out loud in public or in private.

I respect there are some who see such constructive uses as a God send (read Richard Wells reflection), however this depends upon an appropriate space.

My other question is uses beyond the novel. Yeah I can ask Google a question or play a track from The National, but what else? I am really interested in what particular workflows you develop in conjunction with your smart things.

NOTE: I have written this response in the open web and respect your desire to restrict such conversations to paying subscribers, which I am not one, sorry.

Bookmarked Six Years With a Distraction-Free iPhone – Member Feature Stories – Medium by Jake Knapp (Medium)
If your phone gets in the way of whoever and whatever is important to you, don’t accept the compromise. Take matters into your own hands and design the phone you want.
Jake Knapp discusses his efforts to regain his attention by removing apps and notifications from his smartphone. Here are his seven steps:

  1. Decide WHY you want more attention.
  2. Set expectations.
  3. Delete social media apps.
  4. Delete news apps.
  5. Delete streaming video apps and games.
  6. Remove web browsers.
  7. Delete email and other “productivity” messaging apps.

The thing that bugs me is why it is the responsibility of the user to consciously choose to turn off distractions? Imagine if when setting up our devices we were asked which ‘distractions’ we want activated? I agree with Geert Lovink that sadly this is a battle we have lost, so the question is what now.

Replied to HEWN, No. 295 by an author (HEWN)
I’ve been off of social media for a week now. I don’t know if other people have noticed my absence, but the platforms sure have. Facebook now sends me daily emails, trying to lure me to log back in with vague references to what I’ve missed. One message. Nineteen notifications. Four mentions. Facebook wants me to know that Tommy has uploaded a photo, confident I suppose, that I need to use Facebook to see how his very first trip to the UK is going. (I don’t.) Facebook wants me to know that Tressie has commented on Tim’s status update. I haven’t talked to Tim in a while, and Tressie has a book coming out soon. I should email both of them. Thanks for the nudge, Facebook, but I won’t sign in.
The way in which platforms like Facebook and Pinterest send notifications is really annoying. Turning them off is even more frustrating. However, what disappoints me is why platforms whose model is subscription based continue with this trend. If there is a need to send a notification, especially by email, then why can’t it include all the information I need to know? For example, with Compass schools are able to notify users of update and/or information, but this then requires the user to log in and then click on the notification in order to find out something menial such as ‘sausage sizzle on tomorrow’
Liked “And she turned round to me and said…” (Literacies on Svbtle)
I feel we’re knee-deep in developments happening around the area that can broadly considered ‘notification literacy’. There’s an element of technical understanding involved here, but on a social level it could be construed as walking the line between hypocrisy and protecting one’s own interests.