Reconnection Sloum Windswept by Johnny

Found at: circumlunar.space:70/~sloum/phlog/20181114-17.txt

| Disconnection/Reconnection              |
|                                                  |
| Date: 20181114-17:10                             |
| Author: Sloum                                    |
| Soundtrack: Windswept by Johnny Jewel            |
|                                                  |

A number of months ago (half a year or so), I decided to change the
way I interact with technology. Things could not continue as they
were. I had long ago disengaged from social networks, and felt great
about that disengagement. I was happier. The relationships with the
people in my life were better. Countless studies seem to back this
phenomenon. Continued news of data breaches, surveilance activity
(not just by the government, but by everyone else as well), and the
growth of plutocracies worldwide, made me want to disengage further.
Pump the breaks a little.

The first step was to stop using a smartphone. After some research I
found out that GSM phones can still be used, but if they do not
support 4G/LTE, they will only be useful for a few years at most, as
old style voice channels get converted over to LTE data. I bought a
Nokia bar phone like I had in the late 90s. For those that are
curious, it is a current model and yes...it still comes laoded with
the game 'Snake'. This step was a good one. I no longer looked at
my phone at all unless I needed to call or text someone. Half of the
time I didnt even carry it on me. I was starting to feel more free
than I had in a long time. It felt good to not have constant alerts
and reminders to update apps, check e-mail, etc. I do not miss 99% of
what a smartphone offered me. I feel more present with the people
around me. At a dinner table I am focused on the humans I am with.
When alone and waiting somewhere I watch the people around me. I take
more walks. Yes, all of this could be achieved by a dedicated person
without giving up their smartphone. For me this was a good severing
of ties and a breath of fresh air and a return to once was normal for

The next step was to stop using web/tech products from some of what
I have come to view as big offenders. Companies with an inordinate
amount of power (over lives, data, governments, economies, etc). I
have stopped using my Google account and have been moving my data
onto local backups. Once the backup is complete, the account will be
deleted as fully as is possible. Having given up the smartphone, I
was already off of Android and its marketplace. I had long been a
user of Apple computers but felt like it was time for a change. I
shifted over to a Dell (certainly no little player, but at least a
move to a more open OS...maybe a Librem or System76 next?) running
Ubuntu (for now). With that shift also came a shift toward prefering
free (as in freedom) software whenever possible, preferably free
software not developed by a major company. As such, I have moved
away from Atom for coding. I have moved to Spacemacs (E-macs with
Vim bindings and a lot of nice stuff setup and configured 'out of
the box'). Duck Duck Go is the prefered search now and I have an
addon that blocks google domains on my laptop. Protonmail, SDF,
and mailfence all handle e-mail for me. Spreadsheets and docs are
back to being done on my system and kept on a thumb drive if I need
portability. Not ideal, but reasonably private and workable.

These are small steps. Many of them do not genuinely amount to much
in the wider world, but all of them feel like steps in the right
direction for me, possibly others too. Even if they are just symbolic,
they are a step at taking back control and changing the tech landscape
I interact with to be one that genuinely serves my interests.

I recently rediscovered the BBS/Gopher/Public Unix scene. This started
with getting an SDF account and has now landed me here (the zaibatsu, 
at least so far, feels like the good place for my gopher home). SDF has
had a bit of a nostalgia feeling for me... but doesn't quite feel right
in some way. It is missing some of the feel I remember from the early
90s. Gopher has been a wodnerful discovery! I am loving content being 
the focus again. Even more than that, I am loving the feeling of 
discovery and individual creativity. It reminds me sooo much of the
early 90s and the feeling I had when I discovered cool stuff online. In
my spare time I have been building a Gopher 'browser' in Python/Tk. I'll
post about it soon. In any event, I am glad to have found this haven
from the world wide web.

These changes have come at a time in my life where I have been
shifting to active participation in change, rather than simply being
ideologically sympathetic: Last year I stopped eating meat (with some
minor flexibility on rare occasions) and I have not had dairy in
decades. I think people should live their lives in ways that work for
them, and if possible make choices that work for the world. I have long
said that I am against factory farms, the meat industry, the
ecological/environmental impact of our diets... but I went on eating
whatever tasted good. After a conversation with my wife, we both
decided to try to live more inline with how we felt about the world.
The success of that change in my life has spurred a lot of the above
changes in how I interact with technology. I am enjoying a more active
role in making and using my own tools, and contributing, when possible,
to other projects that I find useful.

I am writing this here as my first phlog entry to let the other
members of the zaibatsu have a sense of who I am and where I am
coming from. Hopefully future udpates will be more interesting.

Things to expect me to talk about in the coming posts:

     - Decentralization
     - Marriage and the forthcoming birth of my first child
     - Coding, for fun
     - Community (the way it was in the earlier days of the web)
     - Free Software
     - Communication
     - Anarchism (by my reckoning of the word)
     - Good books
     - Old tech
     - Maybe some music