He and Douglas Adams were the first people in the UK to get Apple Macs, for example. He was the first person to apply for a .uk domain name
Is a little misleading. He was the first person to use the modern, nonprefixed uk domain but not the first person to apply for a .uk domain back in the day.
Watch the 2 parts if you have the time, it's really good.
Social technology (Facebook, iPhones, etc.) are, in my view, absolutely great at helping us to feel less lonely. I've traveled all over the world but can still stay in touch with close friends from back home. They effectively add a multiplier to Dunbar's number.
That being said, there is still the attraction of slowing down occasionally. I spend my life connected but also try to go on a hike for a week or two every year.
Sure. We all go thru phases, cycles. So do relationships, hobbies, habits.
I now help admin an org's web presence. It's fun, for now. In a few years I'll go back to being a hermit.
The Internet has gone from a place with a high barrier of entry (and the interesting characters that self selected for that barrier), to an all encompassing entity with a load of moralisers, businesses and governments fighting over the ability to call the shots.
In its current state, I think it's better to take a step back. View the Internet as an occasional tool for getting things done, rather than a place to live within and rely upon. Let the masses have their addictions fulfilled, while technology enthusiasts move on and enjoy real life.
Physician, heal thyself!
If I really want to focus I put my phone in airplane mode.
OTOH, imagine that you lived in a small community where trade routes or mass migration suddenly made alcohol extremely available, a new problem. You struggle with overuse, try to figure out if it’s a suitable morning beverage, etc. So do most people. Eventually, some people start to talk about moderation, age limits. Maybe we should only drink on Tuesdays, or after work or something.
Culture is being bombarded with new stuff, some of which can cause problems. Culture is adaptive, but it’s hard to keep up with technology. I think it’s OK for people to muse out loud (this is a blog) and possibly useful This is how culture gets made, I think. We need culture to update, so I’m ok with this.
That said, I'm with the author in one respect: I don't have a Facebook account and never will. Constant connectedness is the enemy of deep understanding of the world -- although drugs, pinball machines, and basking in one's alleged superiority to the squares are also its enemies.
what are you basing that on exactly
Maybe it is. Look at it like any other addiction. If you're addicted to alcohol you don't stop for a while that start and hope you can drink in moderation. I guess a better analogy might be an alcoholic who can go into a bar and not drink. I guess there are a lot of people who can do that but for others the temptation can be too much. I know personally I've purged social media accounts several times only to start them up again 6 months later.
Social media tries to use it as a "civic compulsion." They say: Hew to our ideology, or you're not allowed to have an online presence. We will shame and destroy your online persona. So much of our culture and commerce is online and digital, this may well feel like banishment to many.
The same progressive movements that railed against the thought control, coercive pressure, and shaming methods of the church and the old cultural establishment have sprouted online movements of predominantly young people who use silencing tactics, banishment from civic organizations, and coercive shaming to further their agenda.
I find this a damn shame, because I count myself as a progressive and across the long arc of history, this only delays substantive progress. It's like trying to invade and occupy a country by holding land with troops. It's expensive, causes great collateral damage, and it turns many potential allies against you. It can "work," but only when you utterly rout the opposition, and even then, it often just plants the seeds for the next set of conflicts.
True activism can't just stop at demonstrations and resignations. It doesn't stop with committees or legislation or court cases. The end goal is to win hearts and minds. Beware of those who say they're winning hearts and minds, but backing it up with coercion. Beware of power, even limited contextual power. Power that lacks self awareness can be locally perilous.
(Really, is that stuff really about justice, or is it about the pleasure of watching someone get their comeuppance? And has our culture degraded to the point where a large fraction of intellectuals are unaware of the difference?)
It strikes me now how much those little whiteboards prefigured social media. Some people used them to leave status updates, like we do today on Facebook -- you'd write how you were doing today or where you were going to be later at the top of your board. And others (like me) used them like Twitter, as a place to leave little jokes for others to come by and read.
... wait. That sounds familiar.
Facebook was great when it was about randomly writing on people's walls, and having a way to contact that fellow college student you just meant. Now it's all about sharing click-bait, and very little social interaction.
Just because new communication mechanisms come out doesn't mean old ones are abandoned and things are all worse.
Honestly, these regular screeds against the Internet remind me of the many individuals in history who have decried the evils of writing, newspapers, telephones, radio, and television.
I graduated a couple of years before the first iPhone came out and when having a Blackberry or other connected device was not the norm. I still used the internet pretty heavily, but it was just not mobile. Odds were that the person would see the message on the door first before they got an email you sent.
I like to live a minimalist lifestyle at home and prefer owning as few things as possible. I know many others feel this way too. However, with the internet and computing, ownership is abstract. I become overwhelmed and anxious under the deluge of files, apps, notifications, settings, and upkeep required for it all. I know I am not alone in this. Below is a quotation I loved from Deep Work by Cal Newport:
"These services aren’t necessarily, as advertised, the lifeblood of our modern connected world. They’re just products, developed by private companies, funded lavishly, marketed carefully, and designed ultimately to capture then sell your personal information and attention to advertisers. They can be fun, but in the scheme of your life and what you want to accomplish, they’re a lightweight whimsy, one unimportant distraction among many threatening to derail you from something deeper. Or maybe social media tools are at the core of your existence. You won’t know either way until you sample life without them."
Newport, Cal (2016-01-05). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (p. 209). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Essentially, I feel like we've built ourselves digital houses that have no walls. All we have to do is to look around us and we'll see advertisements, social media, news reports, porn, and scholarly journals. The problem is that finding information has become easier than deciding what information we want to find. I think that in order to have a healthier relationship with the internet, we need houses with walls, and a fence. I should not be able to just glance around and see everything at once, because everything at once is overwhelming. I should have to get up and walk to the door, or down to the mailbox. Imposing those kinds of small costs to information access would, I think, go a long way to reducing the anxiety and distractions that currently blow through our digital houses.
> Well maybe they should consider this for a moment. Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers. Your boss. Human Resources. The advertisers. Your parents (irony of ironies – once they distrusted it, now they need to tag you electronically, share your Facebook photos and message you to death). The advertisers. The government. Your local authority. Your school. Advertisers.
Really? "The man wants you on the internet, so you should stop!" If you avoid the internet just because of this, you're still letting the advertisers, your boss, "the man" make your decisions for you, rather than coming to your own conclusions..
> Remembering what I was like at fifteen, I wriggle pleasurably at the thought of how it would feel in 2016 to tell a teacher that, no, I couldn’t possibly ‘e-mail’ my homework, because I don’t have e-mail:
> ‘I’m not on your email, miss/sir.’
> ‘Don’t be absurd, Stephen. Email me the essay as soon as possible.’
A bit of a strawman here, isn't it? In what situation would a teacher ever demand you send an assignment ASAP instead of on the assigned due date? And if it's because you've missed the due date, what right do you have to act difficult and decide the medium over which you turn it in? Either accept the failed grade, or play by the rules of the person who is accommodating you.
Self control when it comes to technology is great and all, and if you feel you need or want less than the average person, that's fine. But thinking you're better than everyone else because you refuse to use a tool some people use incorrectly?
>This is just maudlin, nostalgic mush. You can’t go back. But all my imagination can do when picturing a life off the grid is summon up the life I had before the grid existed, so I cannot help being retrospective.
He's using the past way of life as a framework to build his vision on, not as the desired outcome. The imagined exchange with a teacher is equally fanciful but serves the point of illustrating a conflict between a young person and an establishment figure. A failed grade would be of no consequence here since it is certainly an expected response from someone in a position of power attempting to force you into conformity... missing this point is telling of your misunderstanding of the article so I think I'll leave it at that.
(I'm not sure if I should include a smiley with this or not, to be honest.)
edit: this is from http://deoxy.org/pkd_how2build.htm
I think that what RKD is saying (whoever he is) is that large-scale manufacturing, plus a healthy dose of cheap plastics, have cut us off from physical construction and from the constrained but rather satisfying (at least when contemplated in hindsight) way of how we used to live. That, and he read enough _Dune_ that he's now talking like a Bene Gesserit...
Philip K Dick. He wrote this essay back in the 70s and was talking about what you mention as well as the impact of things like TV but I think it is even more relevant in the internet age. Based on the rest of your comment I think you'd enjoy his work.
The radical alternative now must be to jack out of the matrix, to go off the grid."
This is awfully regressive, but not only that; it's also foolish. If his point is that by going 'Off The Grid' you can escape these people, he's out of luck- these people are AFK as well as online. Try walking through a major city without seeing a single advert.
If you want to get away from all the shit on the internet, the only way is forwards, not backwards.
These days, I'm realizing more and more that it doesn't sound that crazy in this increasingly dystopian world.
I don't know where he gets this idea. Both the Comp. Sci. and Engineering schools at my university require that all students have a laptop capable of running software related to the coursework (financial aid is available specifically to help meet this requirement). The university also supplies plenty of computer labs. If I insisted on turning in all assignments on paper, I would be laughed at and given failing grades until I was kicked out of school.
The modern world absolutely can and will force you to have an online presence.
If it really has to be there, it would (to my eye) look better to lead with it, i.e. "Stephen Fry: Off the Grid".
Journalists similarly shouldn't be held accountable for the ads that appear next to their articles in magazines or the local paper no matter how ironic.
The fact that there IS an ad in the middle of his tirade probably illustrates his point that "the corporation" has infiltrated every facet of our lives.
While he may not have the knowledge to modify the site himself, he could tell the people he's paying to remove the ad. It's most likely the case that he wants the ad.
> Who most wants you to stay on the grid? The advertisers.
It makes me wonder whether a better approach to disconnecting is to set quotas, essentially saying something like "I would like 2 tweets and 1 blog comment to make it to my attention daily -- hide everything else from me for my own sanity."
Well, obviously, and for every generalization concerning a whole generation, you're not, and you're not supposed to be, a person. There's a time to talk of people individually and as persons (e.g. in personal relationships, workplace, etc.) and times to generalize and talk about their collective patterns of behavior.
And those names are not always coming from journalist hacks without "acute cultural observation, sympathy or understanding" either. E.g. "Generation X" came from a member of said generation itself, Douglas Copland, trying to describe how it is for him and his friends.
In any case, "Generation ___" is just a convenient handle to talk about many people together -- its usefulness comes from whether it describes something statistically useful, not from whether it caters to the individuality of each unique snowflake person (and of course most just delude themselves that they are that, while following very similar paths with their generation for most things).
>my proudest boast would be: ‘My friends and I, we disappeared ourselves. No social media, no email, no chat, no wifi, no selfies, no SMS, no smartphones. We did it. We did this thing. We Got Off The Grid.
I'd say this again underestimates how many people are "off the grid" (even if they have internet at home) and don't participate in the whole social media/chat/selfies/etc thing.
Maybe life too.
Instead of going through this whole redundant process of living through it, we could just be given some 10 word summary, like e.g.:
"There was some fun, some sadness, a few regrets, a couple profound experiences, a lot of boredom, quite some pain, mostly ok, and then you died".
n.b.: notwithstanding my unsubtle point, I upvoted RivieraKid, with whom I agree about the value of reading these woefully inefficient thoughts, like Fry's, that I love.
"I have heard many People say, 'Give me the Ideas. It is no matter what Words you put them into.' To this I reply, Ideas cannot be Given but in their minutely Appropriate Words."
- William Blake
"Poets love their handwriting, it’s like smelling your own farts."
Don't I love to read my own Hacker News comments?
And I bet Stephen Fry loves to read his own essays.
This memory of the internet still lives. There are many nooks and crannies that are hard to find as they do not show up on facebook, reddit etc. Lots of independent, wacky, controversial, illegal and subversive sites are alive and kicking.
In the earlier days, I suppose due to lack of volume, it was a lot easier to find these places.
"durr hburr technology is bad fire is scary and thomas edison was a witch"
"Not having an online presence" makes as much sense as "not having a presence at the pub" or "refusing to talk to people as a principle - isn't that so 'awesome'?"
It's fine, you don't need to be on every silly new 2.0 dot com, no issue there.
But you're shutting yourself out of a means of communication with other people. The fact that it involved technology is a detail
You can go to the pub and not drink, you can use FB with a fake name and not do anything with it and you can choose an email provider that suits you, but shutting yourself out does not make sense
It does make sense, your Facebook/Twitter/... presence doesn't go away when you go to bed or go on holiday, it's always there to be ogled at, poke and prodded, unlike your non-presence in the pub when you stagger off home at closing time.
Not quite- if I don't make it to the pub one night, people just brush it off and think "I'll talk to him next time."
People seem much more vitriolic if I don't respond to whatever internet/text message they sent with near immediacy- because it's always available.
It seems like there's a shut-off valve with the pub, or a land-line and answering machine- not so with facebook, texting, what have you.
I have to agree with you on this one. But I believe it suffices to say that no, you're not looking at email/fb/whatsapp/whatever all the time (and acting like that)
Seriously, I had to read that line twice to realize that it was intended sarcastically. I think I just Poe's Law-ed myself.
The 58-year-old went on to say: “Grow up.”
Speaking to the US TV show The Rubin Report about campus free speech, safe spaces and trigger warnings on literature.
"In terms of how they think, they can’t bear complexity. The idea that things aren’t easy to understand, they want to be told, or they want to be able to decide and say, ‘This is good and this is bad,’ and anything that conflicts with that is not to be borne.
There are many great plays which contain rapes, and the word rape now is even considered a rape, if you say: ‘you can’t watch this play, you can’t watch Titus Andronicus, or you can’t read it in a Shakespeare class, or you can’t read Macbeth because it’s got children being killed in it, it might trigger something when you were young that upset you once, because uncle touched you in a nasty place’, well I’m sorry.
It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place, you get some of my sympathy, but your self-pity gets none of my sympathy because self-pity is the ugliest emotion in humanity. Get rid of it, because no one’s going to like you if you feel sorry for yourself. The irony is we’ll feel sorry for you, if you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just grow up.”
Context matters, you can dice up anyone's words to make them say what you like but it doesn't prove a point, it's still a deception, and you're still doing everyone the disservice of assuming that you know better than they do to make up their minds for them. Grow up.
I wouldn't take any so-called wisdom from this man.
That would only prove he can wallow in self-pity too.
Which he has admitted already anyway, and condemned even in himself.
It certainly doesn't prove that self-pity is not as bad as he says.
So he is right. As for him doing it, it doesn't even make him a hypocrite (since he admits it) -- just fallible.
Like an ex (or even current) drug addict sincerely warning people that drugs are bad and that they shouldn't do them.
Not only are they right -- but they also speak from personal experience.
So, yes, grow up -- or grow over it.
You'd rather they didn't?
Life has not only that, but even worse experiences in store -- like losing a limb, your mobility, your life expectancy, your whole family, your house and homeland, etc just like that.
Much worse stuff has happened to people -- and some live that everyday -- and they still rebound and go forward. Wallowing in self pity is bad for those doing it and bad for those around them. And it can even turn them, themselves to something dark (many rapists were in turn abused when younger).
It’s a great shame and we’re all very sorry that your uncle touched you in that nasty place – you get some of my sympathy
His criticism is of "self-pity". I can agree.
email is fine once you have filtered out all the spam and dicks who put everyone on cc.
I love music, but I wont be going back to vinal anytime soon, my mp3 collection is fine and much more convenient. Yes MP3 may have cheapened music and there maybe something about removing it from the sleeve, putting it on the turntable and turning it over after 20 minutes but that person is not me.
Same with books, I love reading books, but I am as happy (if not more happy) to do it on a kindle as a 'real' book from the library.
A cell phone is convenient if left on silent or turned off when in company and not continuously checked
I would still want google and wikipedia to do my job and I would still want hackernews to ensure I can see and click on articles like Mr Frys if I so desire, again these should be on-demand not continuous.
I have some beautiful countryside outside my door and I am very happy to step away from all this and into it as often as I can.
One of the better discussions of this topic is Vi Hart's explanation of Edmund Snow Carpenter's "They Became What They Beheld".
 almost certainly written with Marshall McLuhan
Now you’ve locked yourself out with no way back in.
I'm kinda a bit like you, I'm really only active online on StackOverflow and here. I have a twitter account but to be honest it's mostly full of re-tweets. I binned Facebook to no great loss, and I broke my mobile phone in January and have never bothered to replace it. I feel I have one foot "off the grid"...baby steps :)
Ta-da! No more Ta bu shi da yu.
Is that an insane idea?
The ad midway probably has something to do with numbers, where 10,000 is better than 100.
A reporter asked a Girl Scout whether the cookies they were selling were healthy. She just said, "Don't eat the whole box."
Technology is like relationships, they get better after you develop good boundaries. If you can't trust yourself with cookies, don't keep cookies in the house. But really, you should just work on not being a slave to food. Or Facebook.
Nothing about technology actually keeps you from interacting more deeply with others. You do that to yourself. You can't blame food for making you fat.
A very unrealistic assumption.
I respect what he's getting at, but this is all sorts of backwards for someone who wrote an earlier paragraph about escaping the eye of advertisers (and presumably surveillance)
During my off-grid time, I found I was more productive in terms of thinking and getting my side projects done.
I was able to read more paper books as well as just enjoy life and nature.
Logan’s Run, Zardoz, Soylent Green, Fahrenheit 451
Ah… Zardoz… Nothing beats Sean Connery running around in weird sci-fi shorts. Also, Beethoven.
Read your terms of enlistment, soldier. They can and they do.
How does handing in an essay on paper 'fight the power'? Paper is just as corrupted as the Web. Anecdote: a couple of years ago, before a long coach journey, I decided to buy a pen and paper so I could pass the time writing, drawing, mathematical playing, etc. In the centre of a large city (Birmingham, UK) it took me about half an hour to find anywhere which sold blank paper rather than pre-printed magazines/newspapers/books/etc. (I eventually found some in Poundland; an underrated shop IMHO). I nearly missed the coach.
Rejecting technologies, like email, is self-flagellation. Whether a teacher can or can't force a student to have an email address is irrelevant; all that's needed is to SMTP the server with a syntactically-valid FROM address, like "firstname.lastname@example.org". There is no requirement for that address to even resolve, let alone for it to accept mail and make it available to you. So what if you get marked as spam, that's always a hazard even from established providers.
Likewise, if someone wants to make something available to you via email, there's nothing stopping the use of a one-time-only address, e.g. mailinator.com or something similar with a password, that disappears after 24 hours.
To refuse email in such a way is like refusing to write English in left-to-right order; or using a fountain pen full of invisible ink: it's petty and silly, which is fine if that's your intention, but as a serious statement it achieves nothing.
In contrast, refusing control by "The Corporation" is definitely a Good Thing (TM). It's why I've never used Facebook, Bebo, or any of those other register-to-view silos and never will. It's why I deleted my Twitter account after their chilling meeting with the UK government after the 2011 riots. It's why I host my own blog, Git repos and anything else I would miss if it were deleted. It's why I use only FOSS software, on machines which require no driver blobs or proprietary BIOS (except for the GSM driver on my OpenMoko; I'd be glad to hear of any alternatives). It's why I download videos from YouTube, iPlayer, etc. to watch in the ways that I want to (which may be several decades after those services collapse). It's why I use ad blockers, NoScript, hosts file blacklists, etc. It's why I only turn on my smartphone (OpenMoko running Debian) occasionally, when someone asks me to expect a message from them. And so on.
It's often said that technology is neither good nor bad, only its uses are. Ignoring the "bad" uses of technology doesn't require abandoning the technology itself. The article decries "digging up Wikipedia and planting cabbages over it", but there are also many other areas of the Web which aren't "bullying and wheedling and neediness.. invisible selling... loveless flirting and cowardly mocking... unbearable long silences and the ceaseless screaming chatter... vengeful rivalries... frenzied desperation and ...wrenching loneliness.". Does "jacking out" make those things stop? No, it's just ignoring them. So why not just ignore them without "jacking out"?
Did the youth of the 1950s rebel against authority by hammering on harsichords in their stagecoaches? No, they blared the sound of electric guitars, transmitted via radio, from cars. Refusing to conform to the new normal by staying with the old normal isn't being rebellious; being rebellious is using the new to create some unfathomable anithesis of normal. That's what I love about Open Source, on top of the fundamental rights provided by Free Software: the bazaars surrounding the cathedrals. Yes, FOSS gives us LibreOffice to file our tax returns; but it also lets us connect a GPU-backed deep learning library to a 3D-printed robots, via software-defined radio running on openly-programmed FPGAs, so we can.... I don't know, because it's so new!
When studying Physics as an undergraduate, our lab sessions gave training on how to analyse experimental results using Microsoft Excel. I refused to participate, claiming that the scientific process should not be beholden to the unknown inner workings of a proprietary, black-box application with an exclusionary EULA and known bugs. I performed all of the required analysis on the course using Gnumeric and Python instead. Whilst still quite petty, I still believe that was still a far stronger message than not using email from a residence with broadband-connected computers.
This is a video of "La Cosquillita" by Juan Luis Guerra. I didn't know this song, so I listened to all of it. I'm completely clueless about why this may be related to the discussion.
Bad autotranslation of the lyric: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&pr... (It's difficult to translate because it uses a local variations of the spelling/pronunciation of the words. tl;dl: Someone fell in love and is "ticklish".)
On to other news ...
How about #Microsoft releasing and open sourcing .NET Core http://docs.asp.net/en/latest/conceptual-overview/dotnetcore... and https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/dotnet/2014/11/12/net-core-...
(?) Where has our community gone :/