“I am here” day is a time to “set aside our technology and to-do lists, choose a quarter of the city we wanted to know better, and explore it for a full day… . [It is] a kind of antimodern communal experiment: giving our gadgets a secular Sabbath; reveling in friendship and conversation of a kind that Facebook doesn’t do; being thickly in one place, not thinly everywhere.”
“At the bar, my recently rediscovered heads-up
display—aka my eyes—revealed a person next to me, and for several hours I found myself in a fascinating conversation with one of the dancers from the Broadway musical Spider-Man.”
Baratunde Thurston, arguably one of the most connected celebrities there are, took 25 days away from the Internet. Here’s what he learned.
“I considered fleeing to a remote island for a few weeks, but I realized I wasn’t craving physical escape. I didn’t actually want to be alone. I just wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some digital fashion.”
"The greatest gift I gave myself was a restored appreciation for disengagement, silence, and emptiness. I don’t need to fill every time slot with an appointment, and I don’t need to fill every mental opening with stimulus."
“I love my devices and services, and I love being connected to the global hive mind. I am neither a Luddite nor a hermit, but I am more aware of the price we pay: lack of depth, reduced accuracy, lower quality, impatience, selfishness, and mental exhaustion, to name but a few. In choosing to digitally enhance, hyperconnect, and constantly share our lives, we risk not living them…”
“Perhaps because I wasn’t always getting updates on events happening in faraway places, I focused on the world around me, especially nearby Vanderbilt Avenue, which turns out to be quite a place, especially for food. Late one night, I entered a restaurant called Cornelius, lured by large-print signs in the window advertising meat. Whiskey. Oysters. I could not resist.”
Baratunde Thurston on the happenings of the first week of his digital detox
Meet our tech editor, Chris Dannen. Chris edits Fast Company’s software and media experimentation site, Co.Labs. Here are the three best things he found on the Internet this week:
1. The “McDonald’s theory of bad ideas” This isn’t entirely new, but I love how Jason Jones recasts it to apply to group collaboration. We probably know what we’d all want in an ideal world. But the hardest part is establishing a floor—what suggestion sucks so much that we’d never do it? Let’s start there and work our way up. The by-product is that we all reveal what we consider to be “self-evidently bad,” a process which, in and of itself, can help everyone question their assumptions.
2. Julian Assange’s take on the new book by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt The book is, he says, “an attempt by Google to position itself as America’s geopolitical visionary,” a notion I find alternately horrifying and inspiring. The piece strikes at the core of my ambivalence about Google, which is a subject of something I’m writing this week, two weeks after my trip to their big developer conference. I’ve never come across a company with such vision in some areas—try out a Chromebook Pixel—and such a sad lack of humanity in others—ahem, Google Glass. Never has such a bipolar company had so much power, so much money, and such an uncertain future as they wean off display advertising.
3. ElectroFur I spotted the founder of this company at Google I/O wearing a full-length, multicolored glowing faux-fur coat that absolutely blew my mind. We’ve been covering the right (and wrong) way to design wearable technology, and I’m convinced this sort of thing—while obviously a little ostentatious for everyday use—is hinting at the most inspiring future for fashion design and software you wear.
The highlight of Google’s year is the I/O developers conference it hosts each May. On Wednesday, 6,000 people converged on San Francisco’s Moscone Center and more than one million tuned in to the YouTube livestream of the conference keynote to hear about the newest Google products and services. And during the three-and-a-half-hour opening keynote, Google delivered. And delivered.
The sheer number of new product features was staggering—engineering director Vic Gundotra unveiled 41 new features for Google Plus alone—but only a few made the cut for being truly innovative.