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Mad Marx: The Class Warrior

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sillygwailo
11 days ago
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Toronto, ON
mkalus
29 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
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35 days ago
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rraszews
35 days ago
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Karl Marx of the Wasteland headshotting Ayn Rand is the single most beautiful thought I have ever been gifted with.
CarlEdman
35 days ago
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So true! All of the world's problems could be solved by Marx(ists) killing more of their opponents.
Falls Church, Virginia, USA
quad
35 days ago
Your irony game is so strong.
rclatterbuck
35 days ago
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I'd watch it

Launching real-time filterable push notifications for iOS, Android, web, and email

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For some sites, you want to know when they publish as soon as they publish. Maybe you want to immediately be notified of everything a site publishes, like a monthly meetup that posts an event only once a month. Or perhaps you want to be immediately notified of everything the NYTimes publishes about the companies in your stock portfolio. Or you just really enjoy reading your daily comics and want them emailed to you so you never miss a beat.

Today I’m proud to launch push notifications simultaneously across all three native platforms on NewsBlur (that’s web, iOS, and Android). That means that you can setup notifications for all Unread stories or only Focus stories that you’ve trained to be pushed to you over email, iOS, Android, or through browser notifications on the web.

You can setup all four types of notifications on both web and mobile. And you can employ your intelligence training to only surface the stories that have use certain tags, have specific keywords in the titles, or are written by specific authors. Additionally, it’s easy to hide stories using that same training so that you don’t receive notifications that you want to ignore.

Push notifications on iOS

To start with notifications on iOS, you can use the new swipe-to-the right gesture on the feed list (replacing the trainer on the swipe gesture). It’s very easy to turn notifications on and off or to even step up the filtering on a site so that you only get Focus stories instead.

This way you can overprovision notifications for yourself and easily dial them back to where you get just the right number of notifications.

Today version 7.0 of the NewsBlur iOS app is being released and here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on iOS:

  • Push notifications: real-time push notifications on a per-feed basis.
  • Swipe-to-the-right on a feed to change its notifications.
  • A new optional app badge for unread counts. Enable under Preferences.
  • Stories now automatically are marked as read on scroll. Disable under Preferences.
  • Better image support on iPad and fixes for drag-and-dropping the story titles bar (at bottom of the story detail).
  • A note on that: you can move story titles to the bottom on iPad. Just drag the bottom bar up.
  • Fixed issue with sharing stories not working or disappearing on iPad.
  • Fixed theme issues in the activity share sheet.
  • Fixed a crash from opening stories with no permalink.
  • Fixed size of intelligence control on bottom of feed list on iPhone SE.
  • Fixed issues when story titles are set to the bottom layout on iPad.
  • Fixed issues with the interactions dialog.

Notifications on Android

Android also gets a new version today. Version 6.0 gets notifications and new custom reading fonts as well as the mark read on scroll behavior that iOS and web have enjoyed.

Here’s a list of what’s new and fixed on Android:

  • Mark as read on scroll is a new preference to automatically mark stories as read as you scroll past them.
  • New fonts for reading: Whitney, Chronicle, Gotham Narrow make their way to Android from the web.
  • Also supporting native Android fonts Noto Sans, Noto Serif, Open Sans Condensed, and Anonymous Pro.
  • Switching between Text and Story view is now sticky per-feed (similar to iOS and web).
  • Fixed issues where feed list would not update.

Notifications on Web

Browser notifications are handy for those sites that you only want to read on your desktop. For example, you could setup web notifications for an RSS feed for a status feed, letting you know when migrations and downtime will have some effect on you.

Setting up and tuning notifications is also just as easy to do on the web. You’ll find it under Manage > Notifications as well as in the Read Filter Popover (top right of the app) when reading an individual feed.

Notifications over Email

Finally, for those use cases not covered under web or mobile, you can now have websites automatically email you when they publish new stories.

This is for those stories that you don’t want to miss and want to ensure that you read. For instance, I use email notifications for worrydream’s quote blog that serves me a single paragraph of insight once a week because I loved having quotes emailed to me.

There you have it, four new ways to consume the news. If you love using NewsBlur and want to see it continue to launch new features like these, please tell friends and followers about your news reader. People often ask for ways to stay on top of the game and NewsBlur is the most powerful way to do it.

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samuel
12 days ago
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This is a huge deal and the biggest feature of the year. Notifications have grown on me considerably, esp. the email ones.
The Haight in San Francisco
satadru
11 days ago
Thank you!
satadru
11 days ago
So how would I create a notification for say Samuel Clay's Blurblog?
samuel
10 days ago
I subscribe to the feed of the blurblog and then setup notifications. I haven't built blurblog notifications, although I suppose I should.
satadru
10 days ago
+1. Social notifications on newsblur (comment & shared feed) would be huge. :)
dreadhead
7 days ago
This is neat but I think the notifications I would like the most would be for social interactions (comments etc)
mkalus
11 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
sillygwailo
11 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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11 days ago
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ameel
11 days ago
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Yay!
Melbourne, Australia
JayM
12 days ago
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Nice. Newsblur continuously is by far the best news reader out there.
Atlanta, GA
hooges
12 days ago
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Any chance this feature will someday get the ability to push only certain tags. I know it can do focus, but I might have a use for a notification for just one tag instead of multiples I highlight in a feed.

I guess I could....send notifications to email alias which I then push back to Newsblur...then use intelligence trainer on the feed the email creates with notifications. Ha!
Topeka, KS
samuel
12 days ago
I think IFTTT supports filters like that, which means you could use their new filter feature directly with the NewsBlur channel. It's actually the way notifications were handled ad hoc by users until now.

The Social Justice Warriors are right

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As you might know, I haven’t been exactly the world’s most consistent fan of the Social Justice movement, nor has it been the most consistent fan of me.

I cringe when I read about yet another conservative college lecture shut down by mob violence; or student protesters demanding the firing of a professor for trying gently to argue and reason with them; or an editor forced from his position for writing a (progressive) defense of “cultural appropriation”—a practice that I take to have been ubiquitous for all of recorded history, and without which there wouldn’t be any culture at all.  I cringe not only because I know that I was in the crosshairs once before and could easily be again, but also because, it seems to me, the Social Justice scalp-hunters are so astoundingly oblivious to the misdirection of their energies, to the power of their message for losing elections and neutering the progressive cause, to the massive gift their every absurdity provides to the world’s Fox Newses and Breitbarts and Trumps.

Yet there’s at least one issue where it seems to me that the Social Justice Warriors are 100% right, and their opponents 100% wrong. This is the moral imperative to take down every monument to Confederate “war heroes,” and to rename every street and school and college named after individuals whose primary contribution to the world was to defend chattel slavery.  As a now-Southerner, I have a greater personal stake here than I did before: UT Austin just recently removed its statue of Jefferson Davis, while keeping up its statue of Robert E. Lee.  My kids will likely attend what until very recently was called Robert E. Lee Elementary—this summer renamed Russell Lee Elementary.  (My suggestion, that the school be called T. D. Lee Parity Violation Elementary, was sadly never considered.)

So I was gratified that last week, New Orleans finally took down its monuments to slavers.  Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech, setting out the reasons for the removal, is worth reading.

I used to have little patience for “merely symbolic” issues: would that offensive statues and flags were the worst problems!  But it now seems to me that the fight over Confederate symbols is just a thinly-veiled proxy for the biggest moral question that’s faced the United States through its history, and also the most urgent question facing it in 2017.  Namely: Did the Union actually win the Civil War? Were the anti-Enlightenment forces—the slavers, the worshippers of blood and land and race and hierarchy—truly defeated? Do those forces acknowledge the finality and the rightness of their defeat?

For those who say that, sure, slavery was bad and all, but we need to keep statues to slavers up so as not to “erase history,” we need only change the example. Would we similarly defend statues of Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels, looming over Berlin in heroic poses?  Yes, let Germans reflect somberly and often on this aspect of their heritage—but not by hoisting a swastika over City Hall.

For those who say the Civil War wasn’t “really” about slavery, I reply: this is the canonical example of a “Mount Stupid” belief, the sort of thing you can say only if you’ve learned enough to be wrong but not enough to be unwrong.  In 1861, the Confederate ringleaders themselves loudly proclaimed to future generations that, indeed, their desire to preserve slavery was their overriding reason to secede. Here’s CSA Vice-President Alexander Stephens, in his famous Cornerstone Speech:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Here’s Texas’ Declaration of Secession:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable. That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.

It was only when defeat looked inevitable that the slavers started changing their story, claiming that their real grievance was never about slavery per se, but only “states’ rights” (states’ right to do what, exactly?). So again, why should we take the slavers’ rationalizations any more seriously than we take the postwar epiphanies of jailed Nazis that actually, they’d never felt any personal animus toward Jews, that the Final Solution was just the world’s biggest bureaucratic mishap?  Of course there’s a difference: when the Allies occupied Germany, they insisted on de-Nazification.  They didn’t suffer streets to be named after Hitler. And today, incredibly, fascism and white nationalism are greater threats here in the US than they are in Germany.  One reads about the historic irony of some American Jews, who are eligible for German citizenship because of grandparents expelled from there, now seeking to move there because they’re terrified about Trump.

By contrast, after a brief Reconstruction, the United States lost its will to continue de-Confederatizing the South.  The leaders were left free to write book after book whitewashing their cause, even to hold political office again.  And probably not by coincidence, we then got nearly a hundred years of Jim Crow—and still today, a half-century after the civil rights movement, southern governors and legislatures that do everything in their power to disenfranchise black voters.

For those who ask: but wasn’t Robert E. Lee a great general who was admired by millions? Didn’t he fight bravely for a cause he believed in?  Maybe it’s just me, but I’m allergic to granting undue respect to history’s villains just because they managed to amass power and get others to go along with them.  I remember reading once in some magazine that, yes, Genghis Khan might have raped thousands and murdered millions, but since DNA tests suggest that ~1% of humanity is now descended from him, we should also celebrate Khan’s positive contribution to “peopling the world.” Likewise, Hegel and Marx and Freud and Heidegger might have been wrong in nearly everything they said, sometimes with horrific consequences, but their ideas still need to be studied reverently, because of the number of other intellectuals who took them seriously.  As I reject those special pleas, so I reject the analogous ones for Jefferson Davis, Alexander Stephens, and Robert E. Lee, who as far as I can tell, should all (along with the rest of the Confederate leadership) have been sentenced for treason.

This has nothing to do with judging the past by standards of the present. By all means, build statues to Washington and Jefferson even though they held slaves, to Lincoln even though he called blacks inferior even while he freed them, to Churchill even though he fought the independence of India.  But don’t look for moral complexity where there isn’t any.  Don’t celebrate people who were terrible even for their own time, whose public life was devoted entirely to what we now know to be evil.

And if, after the last Confederate general comes down, the public spaces are too empty, fill them with monuments to Alan Turing, Marian Rejewski, Bertrand Russell, Hypatia of Alexandria, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Mark Twain, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Frederick Douglass, Vasili Arkhipov, Stanislav Petrov, Raoul Wallenberg, even the inventors of saltwater taffy or Gatorade or the intermittent windshield wiper.  There are, I think, enough people who added value to the world to fill every city square and street sign.

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sillygwailo
11 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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27 days ago
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skorgu
27 days ago
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GOP Delenda Est.

Life Without a Destiny

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All of the really great people of the past and of the present always have some singular destiny. Somehow they know exactly what they love, they find it when they're young, and they spend their entire lives doing that one thing. Their destiny, their singular passion becomes their entire life, and they love every minute of it. It's their calling, it's what they were born to do, and it's beautiful. 

My husband, for example, is one of these people, driven by one thing: building a quantum computer. It's been his passion, his goal, his singular destiny his entire adult life. Every waking moment is spent building quantum computers, and he loves every minute of it. Watching him work is one of my favorite things in the world. 

My life is so different. I have no singular destiny, no one true passion, no goal. I flutter from one thing to the next. I want to be a physicist and a mathematician and a novelist and write a sitcom and write a symphony and design buildings and be a mother. I want to run a magazine and understand the lives of ants and be a philosopher and be a computer scientist and write an epic poem and understand every ancient language. I don't just want one thing. I want it all. 

This is why I read so much. I want to know it all. I want to hear every story. I want to feel everything that can be felt. I want to live a thousand lives. I read and I read and I read, and I love every word and every hurt and every dream and every failure. 

There's a piece of paper taped to the wall above my desk, titled "What I Want in Life." One day, not too long ago, I sat down and made a list of the things I wanted my life to be, leaving out any occupations or fields or specific goals. It reads: 

What I want in life

1. To figure out how to find meaning in life and give meaning to life
2. To understand how to do what is right
3. To always do what is right
4. To have a husband and family and friends to love for all my life
5. To write stories and create worlds
6. To spend a lot of time outdoors enjoying the beauty of the world
7. To be a light in the world
8. To always leave things better than I found them
9. To understand the universe
10. To understand my place in the universe

Sometimes I look at this list. Then I look at people who have singular destinies, and I'm in awe and I'm jealous. It hurts a little.  I want a singular passion. I want to be driven by only one goal, not ten thousand goals. Because having ten thousand goals is paralyzing sometimes, and you can never truly dedicate yourself to something the way that that something deserves. Because having ten thousand goals means you always feel like you're searching for the one

People tell me I can't do all the things I want to do, and they are of course wrong, because I can and I do and I will. But I still can't ever reach my greatest, deepest, most secret goal, the goal I left off that list: to have a singular passion. Maybe that's ok. Maybe my life will always be about running toward that unattainable goal, trying and loving everything I find along the way. And maybe at the end, when I have to give an account of my life, I'll say that I never was anything, but I was everything

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sillygwailo
32 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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When introversion collides with the desire to connect

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In The Ultimate Guide To Being An Introvert, James Altucher describes a scenario that is recognizable to anyone who is an introvert:

A few months ago I was at a dinner where everyone was “networking”.

I was totally frozen. I was speaking inside my head but I couldn’t open my mouth.

People were talking and laughing and getting to know each other.

Inside of me, I wanted desperately to talk, to think of things to say, to bond with the people. But suddenly I felt tired and dumb and like I had nothing to say.

And then I was afraid everyone thought I was stupid and boring. Then I thought they didn’t like me. So that made me want to talk even less.

I didn’t speak for the rest of the dinner. I went home but I couldn’t sleep. I kept whispering “sh*t” out loud even though I was trying not to. I just wanted to go to sleep and disappear.

My mind wouldn’t let me. For hours: “s**t”.

This has happened to me literally hundreds of times…at dinners, at conferences, at parties. That desperation to talk, to connect to other human beings, is so powerful but is matched by an even greater uncontrollable desire to sink right into the floor and out of the room. Over the past few years, I’ve gotten more comfortable talking to others in these situations…with mixed results. I don’t know if it’s introversion or some other weird thing, but my brain is so engaged in listening to other people and paying attention to social cues that I don’t really have time to figure out what I’m going to say. So I end up just saying whatever I’m thinking…aka, my inner dialogue.1

I don’t know about you, but my inner dialogue is fucking weird and sometimes not fit for sharing with others. This doesn’t happen all the time, and I do have a filter that keeps most of the truly dumb stuff unsaid, but not all of it. At best, I’ve noticed this TMI tendency can come off as charmingly intimate and at worst, needy or unbalanced. As I get to know someone or am in a more familiar situation, this direct pipeline from my brain to my mouth shuts down, but while it exists, it can make it difficult for me to get to know people.

Hell, I don’t even know why I’m telling you all of this. I guess I’ve decided that, with apologies to not-Mark Twain, it’s better to speak and be thought a fool in the interests of getting to know others and hope that the people on the receiving end are understanding enough to recognize my earnest desire for connection among the sometimes hamfisted conversation.

  1. As I was telling a friend the other day, in this very tiny way, I sympathize with Donald Trump. There’s clearly very little filter between what he thinks and what he says. But, unlike him, I don’t do it all the time, I’m aware of it, I try hard to filter it when I can, and have chosen a line of work that allows me the luxury of taking time to shape my thoughts into something a little less stream-of-consciousness…present post and footnote excluded.

Tags: introversion   James Altucher
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sillygwailo
32 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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My social media fast

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Last week (approx. May 7-14), I stopped using social media for an entire week. I logged out of all the sites and deleted the apps from my phone. I didn’t so much as peek at Instagram, which is, with Twitter and old-school Flickr, probably my favorite online service of all time. I used Twitter as minimally as I could, for work only.1 I didn’t check in anywhere on Swarm. No Facebook. As much as I could, I didn’t use my phone. I left it at home when I went to the grocery store. I didn’t play any games on it. I left it across the room when I went to bed and when I worked.

Many people have given up social media and written about it — the digital equivalent of the “Why I’m Leaving New York” essay — but since I didn’t write about leaving New York, I’m going to do this instead.

I used to be very good about using my phone and social media appropriately. More than a decade of working on kottke.org taught me how to not be online when I wasn’t working (for the most part). I tried super hard not to use my phone at all around my kids and if I was out with friends, my phone stayed in my pocket.2

Almost a year ago, after 13+ years in the city, I moved from lower Manhattan3 to rural Vermont. It’s beautiful here. I live in a house in the country surrounded by horse pasture and there’s great skiing in the winter. The nearest town is only five minutes away by car; it has a two-screen movie theater, a handful of restaurants (none of which are typically open after 10pm), two grocery stores, but nowhere to get a proper donut, sushi, or bowl of ramen. (The nearest ramen is an hour’s drive away.) While I was writing this post yesterday afternoon, the power in my house went out and didn’t come back on for three hours, forcing a delay in publication. It’s been difficult to meet people. Folks here are nice, but they mostly remind me of the people in the small town I grew up in (aka why I moved to the city in the first place). I work from home at a desk in my bedroom and some days, the only beings I’ll talk to are Siri, my landlord’s horses, and some days, my kids and their mom.

Social media, mostly through my phone, has been an important way for me to stay connected with friends and goings on in the wider world. But lately I’d noticed an obsessiveness, an addiction really, that I didn’t like once I became fully aware of it. When I wasn’t working, I was on my phone, refreshing Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook repeatedly in an endless series, like a little old lady at Caesar’s Palace working several slot machines at the same time. And I couldn’t stop it — my phone was in my hand even when I was trying to concentrate on my kids, watching a movie, or reading a book. So, I quit for a week to see what would happen. It’s not a super-long time period, but here’s what I noticed:

- Once I’d set my mind to it, it was pretty easy to go cold turkey. Perhaps my Twitter usage and keeping up with the news for kottke.org acted as a nicotine patch, but I don’t think so. Instagram was the toughest to stay away from, but I didn’t crack once.

- As the week went on, it was more and more evident that it wasn’t so much social media as the phone that was the problem. Even now, a few days after the conclusion of my experiment, I’m leaving my phone at home when I go out or across the room when I’m doing something. I’m going to try hard to keep this up.

- Buuuut, when you have kids, there is no such thing as giving up your phone. There’s always the potential call from their school or their mom or their doctor or another parent regarding a playdate or or or. I spend enough time online at my computer for work that I could mostly do without my phone, but with kids, that’s not really an option.

- Not a single person noticed that I had stopped using social media. (Not enough to tell me anyway.) Perhaps if it had been two weeks? For me, this reinforced that social media is actually not a good way to “stay connected with friends”. Social media aggregates interactions between loved ones so that you get industrialized communication rather than personal connection. No one really notices if a particular person goes missing because they’re just one interchangeable node in a network.

- My no-social week, for a variety of reasons, was probably the shittiest week I’d had in more than a year. Total emotional mess. Being off social media didn’t make it any better, but I doubt it made it worse. Overall, it was probably a good thing I wasn’t subjecting my friends and followers to self-subtweets and emo Instagram Stories…I was already scoring enough own goals without social media’s help.

- So, what did I do instead? I wish I could say that I had loads of extra free time that I used to learn Spanish, clean my house, catch up with old friends, cook delicious meals, and finish a couple work projects. Perhaps if shittiest week ever hadn’t been happening, I would have done some of that. Still, I did end up going to bed early every night, read a couple books, and had more time for work and dealing with kid drama.

After the week was up, I greedily checked in on Instagram and Facebook to see what I had missed. Nothing much, of course. Since then, I’ve been checking them a bit less. When I am on, I’ve been faving and commenting more in an attempt to be a little more active in connecting. I unfollowed some accounts I realized I didn’t care that much about and followed others I’ve been curious to check out. Swarm I check a lot less, about once a day — there was a lot of FOMO going on when I saw friends checked in at cool places in NYC or on vacations in Europe. And I’m only checking in when I go someplace novel, just to keep a log of where I’ve been…that’s always fun to look back on.

Mostly, I’ve resolved to use my phone less. Being on my phone was my fidget spinner…this thing that I would do when there was nothing else to do or that I would use to delay going to bed or delay getting out of bed in the morning. Going forward, I’m going to be more mindful about its use. If nothing else, my hands and thumbs might start feeling better.

  1. Yeah, I did not stop using Twitter. Ideally I would have, but Twitter is a huge source of information for this here website and I couldn’t afford to give it up without ditching work for a week, which I did not want to do because I wanted to maintain my normal schedule. But I didn’t look at Twitter on my phone, didn’t reply to or fave any tweets, muted some non-news/link accounts I follow, and limited my usage to “business hours”.

  1. Still one of my favorite tweets is from Scott Simpson: “My new standard of cool: when I’m hanging out with you, I never see your phone ever ever ever.”

  1. Haha, you’re getting a mini leaving NYC essay anyway. Suckers!

Tags: Facebook   Instagram   Jason Kottke   NYC   Swarm   Twitter   WWW
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sillygwailo
32 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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deezil
38 days ago
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The way he talks about "the kids mom" and the crappy week... maybe he did well with the week away for other reasons.
Louisville, Kentucky
mellangatang
38 days ago
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Wow, a whole week?!?
Whup Tee Doo...

Nobody cares.
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