A roadmap to reclaiming my attention and time
Last edited in March 2022
I’ve always felt I spent too much time on my smartphone and “social media.” I’ve also noticed that some applications had become the “architecture” of my everyday life1.
I want to delete accounts on proprietary platforms and stop using proprietary software and
replace them with use only software that are (a) under copyleft licences (b) preferably held by non-profit organisations, otherwise held by individuals (but not Limited entities).
You can see where I am at in the table below. I started in 2017.
- I’ve been deleting accounts I have on proprietary platforms - see below;
- I’m switching to software that are under copyleft licences preferably held by non-profit organisations, otherwise held individuals (but not Limited entities);
- I ditched my smartphone in 2020 and have been using a dumb phone since;
- I ditched Mac OS and my Mac as my main computer and switched to a 2012 laptop PC with GNU/Linux Trisquel operating system instead;
- We are building a Free (Libre) e-reader.
- On the Web
- On my laptop
- With other “smart” devices: ditch them
- Journal of my progress
On the Web
|software||deprecated or deleted*||replaced with||license||organisation|
|deleted in 2018||I call people, send a newsletter, write postcards, letters, et cetera||-||-|
I don’t know
|deprecated||twtxt||MIT License||License held by the developer|
|Amazon||deprecated||bookstores in my neighbourhood2
|deprecated in 2016
deprecated in 2021
|Gmail||deprecated in 2017||ProtonMail||MIT License & GNU GPLv3||commercial|
|Google Calendar||deprecated in 2017||a calendar notebook
and Thunderbird to deal with e-invites
|Google Drive||deprecated in 2019||I no longer need a cloud cause I have only one device; no need to sync||-||-|
|Google Doc||deprecated in 2019||LibreOffice Writer
License held by Tzu-ping Chung
|Google Sheet||deprecated in 2019||LibreOffice Calc||-||-|
|Google Slide||deprecated in 2019||I don’t use slides these days||-||-|
|Google Alerts||deprecated in 2019||I stopped using Alerts. I had already too much information to deal with.||-||-|
|YouTube||deprecated in 2020||-||-||-|
|Spotify||deleted in 2020||personal playlists on mp3 files
|Netflix||deleted in 2020||no replacement,
I do more reading, and I sleep earlier
& GNU GPLv2
License held by Junio Hamano & others
License held by Tzu-ping Chung
|GitHub||I don’t know yet|
|Substack||deprecated||I don’t know yet|
|Quora||deleted in 2020||-||-||-|
|Blablacar (ridesharing)||deprecated in 2021||Mobicoop||GNU GPLv3||cooperative|
|Netlify||I don’t know yet|
*Accounts are surprisingly difficult to delete! Even once I stopped using them.
Alternatives to other Google products.
This blog use to be a Medium account. Now I use Blot which I really like. My aim is to self-host.
I still use a few proprietary software ran by commercial entities. The plan is to switch to Libre software ran by non-profit.
On my laptop (MacBook)
|software||deprecated or deleted||replace with||license||organization|
|Joplin||MIT License||License held by the developer, Laurent Cozic|
Apache License 2.0
|Books||deleted||Calibre||GNU GPLv3||License held by the developer, Kovid Goyal|
|Screen capture||deprecated||Kap||MIT License||commercial|
|Map||deprecated||OpenStreetMap||Open Database License (ODbL)||non-profit|
|Dashlane||deprecated||KeePassXC||GPL||License held by the developers|
With other “smart” devices: ditch them
I want to ditch “smart” devices and replace them with “dumb” devices.
“Smart” is a euphemism.
This is the plain-word explanation of “smart device”:
a “smart device” is a device that substitutes for your cognitive resources while collecting personal data and metadata.
|smartphone||2020-07||an old dumb phone
an analog camera
a $25 mp3 player
a $10 alarm clock
a pen & note-book
a paper map
a $15 quartz watch
a paperback book or a magazine
|Kindle||not yet||a homemade e-reader built w/ Open Book PCB||MIT License||License held by the maker|
This is a journal of my progress:
- Removed Duckduckgo as my default search engine, because their software is proprietary, and they are a commercial entity - same as Google. I now use MetaGer, a search engine that is (1) Free Software and (2) ran by a non-profit organisation.
- Deactivated account with LinkedIn; next step is to delete.
- Three months in: Spotify was an easy ditch. I realize three playlists and some podcasts on my mp3 player do the job now; there was no need to carry millions of tracks. Also, that is $119 saved per year.
- replaced Books (on Mac) with Calibre to manage my ebook library. Next step is to get an e-reader built on Open Book printed circuit board (PCB).
- stopped using Spotify. I started to make mp3 playlists again. That’s fun.
- started to send printed pictures via post to my friends instead of dropping digital pictures via Signal.
- stopped carrying my mobile phone by default when I leave my house.
- resumed using a mp3 player so I don’t have to carry my smartphone around - just to listen to music. Plus, Spotify did not work very well offline. It seems that it needs to connect to the internet at least once when turned on before it can be used in offline mode.
- started using an RSS reader.3
- started to send more (postal) letters to my friends. What will be left from our relationships if all interactions and memories are digitised?
- decided to send less instant messages to friends and people. I call instead. We miss the subtlety of relationships via instant messages. Also, instant messages let us put the burden on others without investing much energy ourselves. In other words, we can demand the attention of others by sending an instant message without committing to invest the attention to listen to them. On the other hand, calling requires our full attention and focus as we require the attention of others.
- switched back to a dumb phone as my main phone. I did not want that switch to be an excuse to consume, i.e. buy a new phone. There are a few new dumb phones on the market which value proposition is to help people recover the time and energy that the usage of smartphone got for them. I contemplated buying one but in the end I took a dumb phone I had bought in 2014. T9 still works fine.
- resumed using an analog camera.
- resumed using a pocket-size notebook and a pen to take notes on-the-go; so that I don’t have to dive into my smartphone to make a note. Plus, paper and pen is best for thinking.4
- deleted email application from my smartphone
- limited myself to check Facebook once a day only.
- deleted ‘social media’ applications or applications that use infinite scroll from my smartphone (e.g. Twitter, and news apps.)
- started to use Signal
I am writing a book to explain why↩︎
Pam A. Mueller, Daniel M. Oppenheimer (2014), The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, aps, Vol 25, Issue 6; Faria Sanaa, Tina Weston, Nicholas J.Cepeda (2013), Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers, Computers & Education Volume 62, pages 24-31; Anne Mangen, Liss Gøril Anda, Gunn H. Oxborough, Kolbjørn Kallesten Brønnick (2015), Handwriting versus Keyboard Writing: Effect on Word Recall, Journal of Writing Research, 7(2):227-247↩︎