On freedom and value

So I read today about the computer application called ‘Freedom‘ , which allows you to set an amount of minutes in a day where your computer cannot access the internet. A mere 10 dollars allows you to buy the program and set it up on your pac or mac, and to get yourself some freedom from the tyranny of the internet every so often.

I quite like this idea, although personally I prefer the idea of simply turning the computer off altogether, as personally there’s not much I do on the computer now which doesn’t use some kind of internet access. Even when I am doing extended periods of writing, I still use the net to refer to in different ways, or perhaps to play music. So my own reccomendation is that you turn the computer off altogether, I do this at weekends (barring very occasional abberations) and only use the computer during the week.

As it happens I was with a friend all morning today, discussing rhythms of life. He is a guy with a very busy life, a young family and a demanding job – I was talking with him about the ideas of personal rhythms, and the freedom that it gives to reprioritise the way you live to bring in things like manual work, creativity and things which simply allow one to be ‘in the moment’ instead of working or giving of oneself.

People like my friend are inclined to give of themselves without thinking, and to keep on giving until there is literally nothing left, then they crash. To avoid that crash a personal rhythm can be really helpful, structure can be liberating.

Part of that structure is time away from computers and screens altogether. I can understand why some writers from the old school insisted on using typewriters, like a pen a typewriter has a direct interface with the finished article, wheras with a computer it is mediated, and the result can be a kind of alienation. So to reduce that alienation, get yourself away from the screens, that includes phones.

What we all need to do is recognise the value of what we have, lets not let the tyranny of the internet, the tyranny of the screen or even the tyranny of the urgent flummox us into prioritising them over other things. Lets live in the moment and find ways of reducing the alienation which we all experience from day to day.

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2 thoughts on “On freedom and value

  1. > like a pen a typewriter has a direct interface with the finished article, wheras with a computer it is mediated, and the result can be a kind of alienation.

    I disagree. The finished article is not a physical thing, but a conceptual thing. The paper your final copy is on is not important, what is important is the words that describe that edifice of thought. Words themselves are abstract entities representing thoughts, and thoughts can flow and change in ways supported much better by computer than by paper.

    By using a computer – a tool designed to manipulate symbols – you are closer to the real essence of thing you are creating than you are with scratches on a bit of dead tree.

    1. that’s a very interesting concept, I suppose I think of a piece of paper, with ink, as a finished and final product. There is something of permanence about it which I value, and also something elemental, I know it will rot away over time. With a computer I feel removed from that by another step, but I think your point is very interesting and very valid, its a different way to conceive of it. I suppose it depends where you put the value, on the signifier or the sign?

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