I really need to leave social media alone. This week I gorged myself on the intertweetz like a fresh tin of quality street on xmas morning.

6 minutes

I fell off the ‘no social media’ waggon on Wednesday 😞. Cummings’ appearance at the COVID-19 select committee was like Christmas come early. I was levitating though out the day.

It was something truly unique happening in parliament, and I ended up gorging myself on the intertweetz like a fresh tin of quality street on xmas morning.

The thing is tweets are anything but quality.

I’ve felt under the weather since then. Maybe feeling grotty for days after binging on social media for an entire day is related.

Anyways, since then I’ve upped the number sites I have blocked in my ‘Block Site’ extension and have been trying to spend most of the day in ‘Focus Mode’. Which is white listed sites like, google docs, wikipedia only.

This is in addition to working offline where possible. I have really taken to working with wifi turned off. IE when I’m just writing in GDocs and don’t need to do research.

In parallel I’m also trying to reduce the total screen time on my phone down to 2 hours. I haven’t managed it yet – 2h 13mins yesterday – but I have high hopes I might get there.

I’ve spent more than a decade being ‘Extremely Online’. Now I wish not to be.

I think back to 2009ish, working at a call centre with a twitter extension installed into FireFox. So many tweets distracting me all day every day, so many empty info-calories. So much wasted mental time and energy

I know I wrote the words ‘Your Attention Is Sovereign‘. But a few years on I’m beginning to think taking responsibility for where you put your attention alone might not be enough. Not for me anyways. I need all the help I can get to de-program myself.

My podcast this week is on self help books and the people that read them. I wrote it in one sitting yesterday with a light edit as I’d been thinking about my need for social media de-programming all week.

There are lots of books like ‘Atomic Habits’ and ‘hyper focus’ etc that teach you how to do more things with your day. But with the exception of giving up smoking, there aren’t that many books on strategies to exit existing habits.

Interestingly there’s also no 12 step programs for social media yet in the UK.

Meanwhile, meditation practice has been difficult for weeks: ‘The sitter is wrestling with ego one again’.

I have a week of crazy work schedule ahead of me. Then I’m gong away to the woods for a week. I’m going to read, ride mountain bikes with my friends and drink copious amounts of cheap fizzy wine in the hot tub.

I hope that when I get back I can try and build a new estranged relationship with internet.

In other news, following up from the RSS revival post last week. Matt Webb posted a fantastic round up of all his posts and thinking of what RSS could/could be over the last few years. Well worth your time.

Three requests for the Google Chrome team as they experiment with RSS

Permanently Moved

The Self Help Section

You would be surprised by the number of people who come into a book store and need to ask where the self help section is.

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

I have 6 days to finish a metric ton of work before I go to the woods. So I’ve been maxed out and feeling under the weather – nothing super specific. I was just really slow, tired and grotty for a few days. It meant that I got several epic early nights and sleeps this week. So I guess that might have balanced things out.

Had a call with the head of a Ballet School about VR film making, tech constraints, NFTs, and other AxAT (Art and Advance Technologies) ambitions. Super cool.
Might go see them rehearse in August.

Recorded another episode of CIWM on Monday. Got two in the can now. Gonna try and get 1 or 2 more recorded when I get back from the woods, then I’ll start releasing Season 2 bi-weekly. A weekly schedule is too much (lesson learned from Season 1 lol).

I have a call this week coming with an old client who I built spreadsheets for. They now have over 1 million youtube subs and a podcast that has been acuhired. We haven’t spoken since just before the pandemic, I’m looking forward to speaking to them.

Dipping the Stacks

National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO)

The National Association of Productivity & Organizing Professionals (NAPO) has over 3,500 members worldwide dedicated to helping people and organizations bring order and efficiency to their lives.

Robotic β€˜Third Thumb’ use can alter brain representation of the hand | UCL News – UCL – University College London

Using a robotic β€˜Third Thumb’ can impact how the hand is represented in the brain, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

Crunch’ Is No Cheat Code for Better Video Games

The arms race between studios is burning out developers, and nobody is benefitting except the bosses.

Caught in the Study Web – Cybernaut – Every

Study Web is a vast, interconnected network of study-focused content and gathering spaces for students that spans platforms, disciplines, age groups, and countries. Students seeking motivation, inspiration, focus, and support watch livestreams of a real person at their desk, studying

Tired of Running in Place, Young Chinese β€˜Lie Down’

The β€œWhy try hard when you can just skate by?” mentality embraced by some young people has not been enthusiastically received in official circles.


I read Steal as Much as You Can: How to Win the Culture Wars in an Age of Austerity by Nathalie Olah this week.

The book begins with an overview of Blair’s ‘education education education’ reforms. As a child of the 90’s I was swept up in these reforms and New Labour’s ‘β€˜social mobility’ cultural agenda. So it feels personal in a way.

The book goes on to interrogate the class politics in mainstream media. How since the financial crash of ’08 we have essentially been failed by our ‘cultural gatekeepers’ and thing’s have got even worse. It goes on to look at class politics and intersectionality in cultural production and imposter syndrome.

My favourite chapter is the complete evisceration of ‘Changing Rooms/Ground Force/Location Location Location/What Not To Wear/How Clean Is Your House’ television phenomenon of the late Blair early coalition eras. The ‘stealing’ part is basically time theft all the time everywhere.

Really good book. Really inspiring. Recommend it!

I started reading Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry on my kindle. I’m about 45% of the way through and I’ve learnt… a lot about mason bees. I wish there were more books like this focusing on UK fauna and flora.

Music Spotify Playlist

Sarah Neufeld – Detritus

Sarah Neufeld of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre fame has a new album out.

I listened to it walking along the thames on a warm but overcast day. The album’s whole vibe feels like a personal and precise experiment in texture and tone. Everything about ‘The Top’ for example is orchestrated to lift up the solo voice of the violin.

The opening track ‘Stories’ is a cinematic track expressing emotional narrative though soundscape. One wonders if Neufeld won’t be composing for Netflix soon.

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5 responses to “Deprogramming”

    1. Jay avatar

      Yes! I read I last year. Absolutely fantastic book.

      I think I am going though a long and difficult process of trying to find a ‘right’ relationship to the distraction economy.

  1. Pete Ashton avatar

    Oh that’s good! I was reading this thinking “he’s going to mention Jenny soon…” She’s fab.

  2. Pete Ashton avatar

    I think “the right relationship” is significantly harder when most of your life has been spent as part of it. Even the good Web 2.0 stuff that wasn’t fuelled by ad-tech was laying the foundations for what we have now. Good luck finding a solution between blind acceptance and burning it all down….

  3. […] Just over a year go I wrote about ‘Deprogramming’ […]

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