I was weirdly interested in Paul Miller’s year off the Internet. Paul is a writer for The Verge, and they actually paid him to keep writing (offline) through the year instead of kicking him to the curb like most publications would have.

Spoiler: in retrospect the entire thing was a mix of isolating and asinine.

And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect. But instead it’s 8PM and I just woke up. I slept all day, woke with eight voicemails on my phone from friends and coworkers. I went to my coffee shop to consume dinner, the Knicks game, my two newspapers, and a copy of The New Yorker. And now I’m watching Toy Story while I glance occasionally at the blinking cursor in this text document, willing it to write itself, willing it to generate the epiphanies my life has failed to produce.

I didn’t want to meet this Paul at the tail end of my yearlong journey.

Paul is still just as happy or miserable as he was a year ago, except now he doesn’t know who Honey Boo Boo is. Or maybe he does because, without the Internet, he probably watched entirely too much bad cable television. Or local news.

Technology doesn’t move backwards. At least not until we blow the planet up, create a life-eliminating disease, the robots convert us to fuel, or the nanobots ingest every organic molecule and turn the planet into grey goo (pick one – maybe two). The Internet is here to stay, and disconnecting is more likely to make you less happy because you would lose one of the few communications channels that works in our distributed society.

As Paul learned, the Internet is merely an enabler. If you’re lazy and procrastinate, it isn’t like you need the Internet for that. If you get too wrapped up in Facebook or Twitter, odds are you were the same way with memos and water coolers – and could be again. The Internet does allow some people to bypass certain psychological and social limitations around face to face interaction, but the Internet isn’t what actually made them assholes in the first place. But yes, the Internet can most definitely exacerbate certain behaviors, it weakens social herd immunity, and it enables nut jobs to congregate more freely.

I have personally found great value in moderating my Internet consumption, but I’m not so foolish as to think its total elimination would buy my anything. Especially because I now have kids, I try to make sure they know I’m focused on them and not a screen in my hand. Mostly it’s a matter of not letting myself get caught up in a bunch of garbage that doesn’t matter (especially on Twitter), obsessing over the news, or spending countless hours reading things that really don’t affect my life or improve my education. It’s all a balance. I’m far from perfect, but I suppose my extreme lack of leisure time makes it easier for me to focus.

So I am proud to announce, much to your relief (yeah, right), that I am not leaving Twitter, Facebook, email, or the Internet in general. On the other hand, I reserve the right to check them when I want, not respond to every email, and not apologize for missing that blog post. The Internet is a big part of my life, but my life is much more than the Internet.


On to the Summary:

Webcasts, Podcasts, Outside Writing, and Conferences

Favorite Securosis Posts

  • Mike Rothman: Twitter security for media companies. These are good tips for every company, but more urgent for media companies given the recent Twitter hacks. This is a big deal for companies that provide shared access to corporate Twitter accounts. At some point we would like to see Twitter support federation (perhaps as a subscription service) so companies can define who can do what with their account, and enforce those entitlements. Details, details. (Editor’s note – Twitter supports OAuth, so it does allow this -Rich)
  • Adrian Lane: Trailblazing Equality.
  • Rich: Socially engineering (trading) bots.

Other Securosis Posts

Favorite Outside Posts

Research Reports and Presentations

Top News and Posts

Blog Comment of the Week

This week’s best comment goes to our very own Chris Pepper, in response to Google Glass has already been hacked.

I presume Glass doesn’t have a green ‘REC’ light on either wearer or world side, so no way to know if/when a cracker is spying on you, right? Obviously it should have a REC light, but presumably Glass is always processing a live video stream, so it’s not like it could visually signal presence of camera power–and of course people would be even more paranoid if they could see when Glassholes were recording them.