A Year of Freedom

Day Ones ‘On this Day’ feature informs me that it’s been a year since I installed the site/app blocker freedom.to.

10 minutes

It’s hayfever season here in London. Which means weeks of a scratchy throat, chesty cough and brain fog every afternoon from the tree pollen.
But we do out best.

Thanks for everyone’s kind words Re-last weeks post on not contributing to a negative Internet. πŸ™


A Year of Freedom

Day Ones ‘On this Day‘ feature informs me that it’s been a year since I installed the site/app blocker freedom.to. Quick maths suggests that I had been using the app for just over 2 weeks when I wrote Blocking It All, and 5 months had passed when the phrase ‘Installing Freedom‘ came up in conversation with some friends over dinner .

Having lived with freedom.to on my phone+laptop for a year I thought I’d jot down some reflections on the experience so far.

Check the Post

My relationship to the Internet and in particular is the best its been in a very long time. I only have social media unblocked on my devices for 90mins from 6.30pm till 8pm. Whilst social media is 24/7, all ways happening all the time, 90mins is just enough time to catch up events, check in with people etc. Keeping social media in a short time boxed activity window has stopped doomscrolling dead.

Also, since I installed Beeper App on my phone – the all in one messaging app – the other month, I have found my self logging into social media even less. I can now see my Twitter DM’s on my phone and desktop, so don’t ever need to log in at all. Days now can go by without my having seen the feed. A condition almost unimaginable at the height of my addiction. Once you loose the taste for social media, you loose the taste for all the Twitter methadone replacements like Bluesky, Farcaster, Substack notes, and Mastodon too.

I will add one exception to that list though. Instagram is blocked form 8am till 6.30am and I have access to the app all evening. 1. At some point I’ll post my Photo-of-the-day there and 2. It’s my main source of memetic content between my friends and I. Rarely however do I ever exceed the 20min usage timer I have on the app on my phone however.

Choosing what to Block

This is related to this weeks podcast (below). Choosing what not to be interested is a more powerful move than choosing what to pay attention to. When I first installed the app I used the default ‘news’ filters and social media apps and I’ll reiterate what I said a year ago about the experience of first using the app:

At the beginning I was like a smoker patting his jeans for the phantom pouch of tobacco. Opening tabs and typing URLS. But a week in, its become more natural to not think about it. About what i’m missing.

The key things I’ve found throughout the last year has been to be mindful of displacement destinations/activities.

When I got back from Thailand, I ended up adding a new blocking schedule called ‘do the work’ from 2pm – 6.30pm which adds additional sites to the block list. For me I ended up adding Discord, (on desktop), and a whole bunch of frequently updated blogs which are too noisy for my RSS reader (like The Verge) that I tend to read in the browser etc. If I find that i’m spending a lot of time somewhere online when I should be working I block the URL. Remove it from my life.

Over time I also added other apps to the session that kicks in at 8pm to re-block social media. Youtube is blocked on my phone from 8pm for example. Which removes any chance of getting stuck in a big sit, sucked into short form video for an hour when I could/should be doing something else.

Workarounds

Workarounds always exist. Even if you are blocking URLs at the system level. Also, sometimes someone sends you a link or an article to a website that you have blocked. And sometimes a response is needed to that link promptly. Now. I’m not going to wait till 6.30pm to read the article, nor am I going to go though the rigamarole of turning off the block session just to read one article on a news website. So instead I check to see if the article is snapshotted on an archive page read it there. This works fine, it’s also just enough friction to stop you from doing it all the time. You have to be motivated to read the page, you know the destination you’re going to. It’s not a mindless wasting time/browsing thing.

Procrastination

Using a app/site blocker is an extreme intervention, but has it helped my procrastination?

My problem is not finishing things rather than not doing things so not really. I think I get more done overall, than I did before I installed freedom.to for sure. I’m just doing more and not finishing more. LOL

A Year of Freedom

The Internet has become a place that I go to, get information from, then get out of.

The only way I can really describe what having time based access to certain parts of the Internet on desktop and apps on my phone is like is this: It’s exactly like 2007 when the Internet lived in a box in the corner of the room.

If you wan’t to be on the Internet you have to be sitting at the computer, which was dictated by the periods of time that you are at home, and … sitting at the computer. Just like the ‘sessions’ the app uses.

Parts of the Internet feel like ‘places’ again. Social media, short form video, the news, etc have over the last year become parts of my psychic virtual environment that have ‘visiting hours’. And I feel like this is super healthy. The feeling of total estrangement from social media has been the biggest change too.

Much of my socialising now happens in Telegram groups and Discords and I have been tempted to add/block Discord as part of my afternoon ‘Do the Work‘ session. This is on the cards and something I might end up doing.

Over all its been worth it. I have a much healthier relationship to the Internet and my computer in general. If you like me struggle with willpower, addictive personality when it comes to social media or the internet than Freedom.to’s $99 lifetime licence price point pays for itself very quickly. Totally worth it.

Permanently Moved

Conflict of Disinterest

We should abandon the external ‘Battle for Attention’ and instead engage in an internal ‘Conflict of Disinterest’

Full Show Notes: https://www.thejaymo.net/2024/06/29/2413-conflict-of-disinterest/

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Permanently moved is a personal podcast 301 seconds in length, written and recorded by @thejaymo

Photo 365

176/365/2024

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

  • Saw Jay Owens IRl.
  • Had a call with Automattic
  • Had a call with a cool team building an Autonomous World
  • Worked on season 2 of Experience.Computer (final pass edits)
  • Wrote some more of SoloRPG essay
  • Wrote a whole bunch of notes for web was a sidequest on the thickening of symbolic space and the Santanic panic.
  • Delivered last bit of of paid work I had in my freelance diary!
  • Printed, folded and posted issue #010 of the zine

My calendar is open! Hire me!

Terminal Access

Justin Picard posted a great post yesterday responding to Max Kreminski’s recent paper on AI “Dearth of the Author”.

Ultimately, the goal is not to let the β€œdearth of the author” force us into a defensive crouch, but to imagine and cultivate rich, collaborative spaces where human creativity and AI capabilities can coexist and interact. By embracing the potential of AI-augmented writing while engaging with its implications, we can create the conditions for these tools to scaffold an abundance of expressive intent, rather than resulting in its dearth.

Dipping the Stacks

Wind and solar are β€˜fastest-growing electricity sources in history’ – Carbon Brief

Wind and solar are growing faster than any other sources of electricity in history, according to new analysis

The world has (probably) passed peak pollution

Millions die prematurely from local air pollution, but we can reduce this number significantly.

Why creative labour isn’t always seen as β€œreal work” – and what that means for artists and designers

As a rule of thumb, capitalism is risk-averse. It requires predictable forms of labour in order to ensure consistent, predictable profits – which is at odds with artists’ desires (and cultural expectation of them) to experiment and innovate constantly.

Sharing too much about too little – Manu

Maybe it’s just me but the more time I spend online the more I enjoy consuming content from people who are not afraid to share content in a very honest and sometimes vulnerable way. People who share without an agenda

How Diclofenac is killing Zoroastrianism

The vulture crisis had an immediate impact on the Parsi population. Within just a few years of diclofenac being available the absence of vultures was noticeable, and sky burials started becoming more difficult.

Reading

I’m still reading Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up by James Hollis. Taking this one slowely as it’s so rich and full of things that are hitting home on every page.

I’m nearly finished with Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the β€˜Weird Cult’ by David S. Wills. It’s fantastic. Can’t recommend this biography enough. Scientology was so central to Burrough’s life that as the introduction to the book says it is remarkable that many other books gloss over it. I think this would be a great book to double bill with Peter Grey’s Two Antichrists

I finished Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology by Neil Postman. I have read Amusing ourselves to Death and Visions of Cyberspace. I even gave a talk at unsound on the ‘Confusing ourselves to death’. But I’m glad I read this book. Its a super important book about how worldviews travel with technology and go unchallenged.

I moved on to reading Extremely Online by Taylor Lorenz. I’m not that far into it, but like the experience of reading Joanne McNeils Lurking, or Chayka’s Filterworld, it’s interesting to read histories of a moment in history/time and technological change that one has lived though, and participated in.

Hakushi Hasegawa – Departed

Hakushi Hasegawa has a new album coming out on NinjaTune in July. For now though there are a few singles out as an EP.

Departed is my favourite track released so far. My abnd mate Paul sent me a Spotify link saying ‘this seems like it would be up your street’ and I replied ‘you would be correct’. It’s everything I want from pop music: Gabba level bpm, obnoxious rhythmic samples, video game synths and catchy J-Pop vocal hooks.

The result being very sonically compelling and totally unlistenable.

It might be my favourite track so far this year!

Remember Kids:

The Emissary thinks about the story of a life, especially as it is underway.

Emissary’s Guide to Worlding by Ian Cheng

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