Category Archives: CommFree

The life offline

This is not really a post, but more of sharing a link.

At some point this summer I came across a blog of Aaron Swartz, who seems to be a really interesting character.  One of the things that caught my eye was his story of spending this past June offline.  He simply got tired and overwhelmed by the continuous flow of information and communication and decided to take a brake.

Frankly, I was not very much surprised that Aaron found that month being refreshing and liberating’ a month that allowed him to take his life back and to focus.  I think this is part of the idea I had in mind thinking about the CommFree day.  What I would be really curious to hear is how his online habits and the way he interacts with technology have change (which he claims has happened).

Just some food for thought.

Secular Sabbath

Thank you Sol for sharing this!  I am excited…

As you may know I am trying to practice a CommFree day and am inviting others to join me.  Apparently there are more and more people thinking like me.  Here is an article from NY Times discussing the phenomenon.  They call it “secular Sabbath” (another option for those of us who do not like “CommFree” as a name) and point at it as a growing trend.  It looks like they are trying to practice a CommFree day on a weekly basis, which is even more than I originally suggested (once a month), yet it sounds as if people are appreciative of the outcomes.

Are you joining?  ;)

Comfree confession

It’s been a while since i posted updates on the Commfree or CommTechFree days. In fact, i was rather good in observing those. Luckily, it worked out in such a fashion that i could just go away and spend the time hiking or seeing friends. For example, just last month i spent the CommFree day in the Northern Israel where i could see some amazing scenery such as that in the picture. Probably the only technology I used at that time was a camera, but there was definitely no internet.

Now, it is the confession part. Tomorrow i won’t be able to keep the ComFree day because of the work load and because we are hopefully going to launch the WikiCandidate website (more about it later). So, yes, life poses its own limitations and we all are human. I hope to carve some other day this month to have some ComFree time, but that does not mean that you cannot practice it on schedule (though something tells me that i am the only crazy one actually practicing it :)

CommFree – it didn’t hurt, really

Just a quick feedback on my last Comfree Day, which passed by with tremendous speed. It was both fun and a rather productive day. I did quite a bit of reading, cooked, went to my first ever live hockey game, and to a post-Halloween party. I had to use a phone a couple of times and i took quite a lot of pictures. But other than that, there was no communication technology involved (actually, although the camera is digital, it is not really a communication device).

Contrary to some people’s suspicions, it didn’t hurt at all. Quite the opposite, it was rather easy to spend the day with no computer, even when you are at home. In fact, not having access to email forced me to improvise more with coking, which yielded great results. The only downside was that this day passed very, very quickly.

Hockey

ComFree update

It’s been a few month since i first wrote about the comfree idea, but since then i haven’t heard much from of the people who commented on it and, frankly, didn’t do a very good job in communicating about it. In fact, I did not manage to maintain the routine of first Saturday every month as much as I initially hoped. Life got in the way and sometimes i had to use the technology on the specific dates. It was particularly difficult to maintain while traveling. At the same time i tried to have at least a day a month when I do not use communication technologies. This was especially easy for example when, together with friends, I went for three days to Adirondacks :)

However now I am trying to bring the idea back on track. So, tomorrow is the first Saturday of November and i am going to take a break.

LittleTapperLake

Commfree day

Update – July 11

I created a page dedicated to CommFree discussion, so it would always stay at the front page of the blog. You can find the link in the right upper corner, under the link to “about” page.

Feel free to engage in conversation over there.

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OK, this is an idea I’ve been playing with for a while…

But first a confession… I am a communication junkie. I love technology, i love media, I love gadgets and everything associated with this world. I find it hard to imagine what i would do without all these technological wonders. What would i do without internet? How would i communicate with all my friends spread all over the globe? How is it living without some TV here and there? Or more so without music… online radio silence day was a killer! One of the first things i do in the morning is turning on the computer on my way to the bathroom. I think i am addicted.

Having said that, i admit that many times i feel overwhelmed…. for example by the amounts of email, social networking sites’ updates, phone calls, etc. or in general by the amount of time i spend online. I get frustrated from the quality of news or entertainment i see on TV or read in the newspapers (see a very nice article by Oz Almog on the subject, sorry, but it’s in Hebrew). And then i am angry at myself for spending time on getting frustrated instead of doing something useful. And so on and so forth.

Bearing in mind this conflict, it seems to me that with all the good things extensive communication and information accessibility give us, many times, also thanks to them, we find ourselves drawn into infinite chase, forgetting to enjoy the life. On the one hand we forget enjoying the simple things like reading a book just because, going for a hike or simply doing nothing for a while. On the other hand, in the technological context, we forget enjoying all the benefits that media and information technologies (MITs) are bringing in our lives such as instant communication with others, access to information, ease of getting things done, and more. I personally find myself many times chasing something without an option to stop, think things over, and reflect on what is that i am chasing, or how i do that.

So, in order to restore the balance and maintain a perspective on both the non-technical aspects of our lives and the role of MITs in our lives, i suggest a Commfree Day. The idea is having one day a month free of communication technologies. One day a month when you turn off your TV, your computer, your mobile, and other gadgets, and do all the other things you usually don’t have the time for. It can be going for a walk, finishing that book that lays for months by your bed, meet up with friends whom you haven’t seen for ages, etc. The options are practically unlimited. The basic drive is making the commfree day a comfy day – something that you would enjoy.

I believe that having this practice once a month will help maintain a perspective on both our non-mediated lives and the role of MITs in them. I am not suggesting doing that out of hatred towards technology (or just because as the shutdown day people seem to be doing). Quite the opposite. I suggest that because I think we need this break to reflect on where we are heading and reflect on the role media and information technologies play in our lives. I think it is a healthy practice, and the key for it success is it becoming a practice – once a year is just not enough.

On a more practical level, i think this day should be the first Saturday of each month. Why? Well, it has to be a non-working day for you can’t force people not to work and Saturday seems to be the most universal holiday globally. Also, first Saturday of the month is easy to remember. So the next Commfree Day is August 4, 2007. I plan on following it and would be glad to hear if anybody else joins me.

Of course, i do not suggest it being too rigid. Although i do believe for doing the complete thing, but I undersatnd that there are cases where you can’t give up the MITs completely or it is just too much to ask at once. To start with, i think the idea is to minimize the use of MITs as much as possible aiming towards eventually freeing that one day a month.

And one last thing, i would really like to hear what you think about this idea, about how it could be better formulated (and probably named) and spread around. Needless to say that you should feel free passing it on. Thanks!

 

What: Commfree Day

Why: Because you love your life and you love the technology

When: Saturday, August 4, 2007