Weekend Reading: No Disconnect Edition

GadgetsMy friends at GeekDad are calling for readers to disconnect this Sunday (much like last year’s Great ProfHacker Offline Challenge–which was 36 hours!) as a way of re-discovering . . . the simple things, I guess. (It sounds to me like a way to rediscover yardwork or other chores, which seems bad.)

One of the things that occurs to me much more strongly this year is the decadence of the gesture: Often, it’s only possible for one person to “unplug” in this way if someone else doesn’t. For example, I use my text messages exclusively for two things: AAUP business, and coordinating youth sports. Texting helps me coordinate with coaches, parents, and league officials across multiple fields and parks–and if I were not doing that on some day, then that means someone else would have to do that. On the one hand, that’s probably fine, right? They’d probably do a great job. But they would have to do it.

(I chose the sports example because one of the quirks of our local sports leagues is that they all scrupulously cancel all events on Mother’s Day, but feel free to load up Father’s Day. Ah well.)

We do need to get better at moderating our screen time and so forth, I’m sure–but the fast doesn’t strike me as a good idea. Better by far to adopt strategies like those Natalie suggests here, or in the e-mail charter linked below.

Anyway. On to this week’s links!

  • Derek Powazek offers an “On the Network Manifesto”. Most crucial one is #10: People make the internet what it is. If you don’t like it, make it better.
  • ProfHacker-fave Sherry Turkle is interviewed by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty about privacy, democracy, and technology: And it doesn’t take away from how much social networking and how much the Internet can bring to democracy and to democratic movements and to social revolutions to say, “Look, we also need to be respectful of how mature democracy depends — depends — on the individual having a realm and a right to privacy.” And I think that we need to be able to keep complicated ideas in mind at the same time.
  • Dara Horn marks the decline of the luftmentsh and his replacement with a more practical public intellectual: A far more telling demonstration of how intellectual life has taken a turn for the statistical can be found in Posner’s Public Intellectuals—not in the book’s content, but in its form. To demonstrate the decline of public intellectuals, Posner does not rely on opinions or even reportage from those in the know, but actually provides tables upon tables of statistics tracking media mentions of public figures, sorted by field, age, occupation, and other indicators, and then uses multiple-regression analysis on these data to prove his point. (Via Anne Raquel Trubek)
  • TED’s Chris Anderson issues a call for “an email charter”: It is in fact a potent ‘tragedy of the commons’.  The commons in question here is the world’s pool of attention.  Email makes it just a little too easy to grab a piece of that attention. The unintended consequence of all those little acts of grabbing is a giant rats nest of voracious demands on our time, energy and sanity.
  • At 52 Tiger, learn how to use the (Mac-only) text editor nvALT and Simplenote as a electronic notebook–indeed, a “database for everything”: Any bit of reference material I receive is added to nvALT, properly named and synchronized with Simplenote. Changes made in one app show up in the other. Try it out for simple, fast access to all of your stuff. I (@jbj) use this combination for 100% of my online writing. Also see Caleb McDaniel’s trick for using these two apps to as an awesome to-do list app, which I’ve linked to previously.

I am shamed that it’s taken me two years to discover “A Certain Fidelity,” which splices video from High Fidelity with The Hold Steady’s terrific “Certain Songs”:

If your parody song about Whole Foods culture rhymes “brah” with “quinoa,” you definitely get a link.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Photo by Flickr user blakespot / Creative Commons licensed

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