December 22, 2020

A roadmap to reclaiming my attention, time, and intimacy

Last edited in October 2021

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 life; I relied on them to keep in touch with friends and family. I never liked that1.

So:

  • I’m deleting accounts I have on proprietary platforms;
  • I’m switching to Free (Libre) Software ran by non-profits
  • I switched to a dumb phone
  • I ditched my Kindle and I am making a Free (Libre) e-reader with others
  • I plan to ditch Mac OS and my Macbook; I will use an old PC with GNU/Linux instead.

Summary

On the Web: delete accounts on proprietary platforms

I want to delete accounts on proprietary platforms and replace them with Libre software ran by non-profit (not private companies.)

Also, a solution I’ve found to be effective: do not replace software you want to quit - just stop using them. See example below: Facebook, Google Drive, smartphone, etc.

You can see where I am at in the table below. I started in 2017. It takes time.

software deprecated or deleted* replaced with license organisation
Facebook deleted in 2018 I call people, send a newsletter, write postcards, letters, et cetera -  -
Whatsapp deprecated in 2020 Signal
Element
GNU GPLv3
Apache-2.0
non-profit
non-profit
LinkedIn deprecated this blog
a newsletter
Contacts
a RSS reader
see blog
proprietary
proprietary
MIT License
see blog
commercial
commercial
I don’t know
Twitter deprecated twtxt MIT License License held by the developer
Amazon deprecated bookstores in my neighbourhood2
epub
- -
Chrome never used Firefox
Tor
MPLv2.0
Free Software
non-profit
non-profit
Google Search
DuckDuckGo
deprecated in 2016
deprecated in 2021
MetaGer GNU GPLv3 non-profit
Google Map deprecated OpenStreetMap ODbL non-profit
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
MPLv2.0
-
non-profit
-
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
MacDown

-
MIT License

-
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
VLC
-
GNU GPLv2
-
non-profit
Netflix deleted in 2020 no replacement,
I do more reading, and I sleep earlier
- -
Medium deprecated DNS provider
Blot
git

MacDown

proprietary
(check license)
MIT License
& GNU GPLv2
MIT License

commercial
commercial
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)

Same as above: switching to Libre software. The aim is to move to Linux and use a PC again at some point, so I can ditch Mac OS.

software deprecated or deleted replace with license organization
Page deleted
2020-05
LibreOffice Writer MPLv2.0 non-profit
Number deleted
2020-05
LibreOffice Calc MPLv2.0 non-profit
Keynote deleted
2020-05
LibreOffice Impress MPLv2.0 non-profit
Notes deprecated
2020-05
Joplin MIT License License held by the developer, Laurent Cozic
Mail, Cal deprecated
2020-05
Thunderbird MPLv2.0 non-profit
Safari deprecated Firefox
Tor
MPLv2.0
Free Software
non-profit
Facetime deprecated Signal
Jitsi
GNU GPLv3
Apache License 2.0
non-profit
iMessage deprecated Signal
Element
GNU GPLv3
Apache-2.0
non-profit
Contact
Books deleted Calibre GNU GPLv3 License held by the developer, Kovid Goyal
Dictionary
Screen capture deprecated Kap MIT License commercial
Map deprecated OpenStreetMap Open Database License (ODbL) non-profit
Quicktime deprecated VLC GNU GPLv2 non-profit
Photos deprecated Finder proprietary commercial
Preview
Finder
Terminal
Authy
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.

device deprecated replace with license organization
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

Journal

This is a journal of my progress:

  • 2021-08
    • Removed Duckduckgo as my default search engine, because they are a commercial entity. I now use MetaGer, a search engine that is (1) Free Software and (2) ran by a non-profit.
  • 2021-02
    • 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.
  • 2021-01
    • deleted all my articles on Medium and deprecated my account
  • 2020-12
    • 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).
  • 2020-11
    • 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.
  • 2020-10
    • stopped carrying my mobile phone by default when I leave my house.
  • 2020-09
    • 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
  • 2020-08
    • 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.
  • 2020-07
    • 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.
  • 2020-05
    • replaced Pages, Number, Keynote, Notes, Mail, iCal, Screen capture, Dashlane with LibreOffice, Joplin, Thunderbird, Kap, KeePassXC.
  • 2019-07
    • 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 creativity and thinking.4
  • 2018-07
    • deleted email application from my smartphone
  • 2018-03
    • deleted my Facebook account.
  • 2017-08
  • 2017-05
    • started to check Facebook once a day on desktop browser.
  • 2017-04
    • deleted applications that use infinite scroll from my smartphone (e.g. Twitter, and news apps.)
  • 2017-04
    • deleted social media apps from my smartphone (i.e. Facebook and Twitter.)
  • 2016
    • started to use Signal

Hey, I’m writing a book to explain the nature of our relation with tech platforms” (e.g. Facebook, Google), and the impact our usage of platforms has on our autonomy, individuality, desire, and intimacy. You can sign up here to get an email when the book is out.


  1. I am writing a book to explain why↩︎

  2. https://romainaubert.com/english-bookstores-berlin↩︎

  3. https://romainaubert.com/how-to-use-rss-feed↩︎

  4. 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↩︎

  5. https://romainaubert.com/replacing-facebook-with-newsletter↩︎


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