After we obtained easy access to the internet, we were catapulted into a spiritual and cultural philosophy: “technology will save the world”.
This and similar mores of our time were engineered by utopian computer science graduates and Wall Street capitalists. Some technology companies all but admit they want to “run the world”.
The Techimist tells a different story.
The Techimist illuminates the stories about technology and software that is used most frequently by today’s citizen. We are humans living valued lives, feeling, loving, hurting, connecting. We are not “users” or “consumers”, and our lives are not toys for others to mine for their profits.
The Techimist posts the news articles and blog posts you may likely have missed in your “feeds”, the ones some companies and people would rather you not hear about it.
Questions to Consider
The Techimist recommends asking ourselves “What is my best life now?”, instead of us asking others, “Are you on App X?”.
What if instead we said, “How are my precious 168 weekly hours spent for my long-term purpose and growth?”, instead of wondering “What influencers should I follow now to be inspired?”, or “Is there a new series to watch better than the last?”.
When we have moments of doubt, and a ray of sunshine pierces our smartphone-addled minds, instead of debating if we should curtail our “screen time usage”, The Techimist posits the question, “Are you really in control at all?”.
Empathetically, do we admire the few that are spending their lives with their loved ones, immersing themselves deeply in hard work and education, reading books or journalism to enrich their lives and make themselves better persons? Are we happy they are free to spend hours and hours each week on themselves, their families, and to experience life with all their emotive senses, not just with images of emoticons?
Or do we unwittingly work as shills for software tycoons when we badger them to “join us”? Do we excitedly tell them about a great show they should watch? If we learn they enjoy a particular real-life hobby or skill, do we corral them to carve out time to digitally follow a person or hashtag?
Do we shame them for not knowing things we “learned” via our apps and networks, instead of wondering what they know or what they experienced because they do not spend hours each week surfing and sifting through “feeds”.
When we ask someone to “connect” or to “follow us”, or recommend a “cool app”, do we consider that, in effect, we are imploring them to spend time away from their children, pets, careers, businesses, life goals, and their spiritual path?
When we are anxious and long for “down time”, do we think about the moments of quiet and peace we have allowed technology to rob us of? Do we take responsibility for recommending others to spend more time on screens and wonder if it isn’t all some kind of tech Karma?
What if instead of doing more digitally, we did less? What if each week we increasingly traded digital life time for analog life time? Would our lives improve? Do we even remember anymore what analog life is? What if we eventually got down to only one hour per week of Total Digital Screen Time? Does that scare us? Should it?
Does technology always serve us? Can we prove it to ourselves? Can we even remember the dreams and goals we had five years ago? Can we demonstrate their fulfillment, even partly, due to our time spent using these apps, devices, and hundreds of logins?
Do we really own our “feeds”, or like chickens, are we just debeaked and clipped birds being “fed” manufactured diets?
The Idea for The Techimist
For years, I collected links to quality news articles. I would share them with friends and family.
The articles unearthed problems at tech companies, societal concerns about the sweeping and even dangerous uses of technology, and the massive power corruptions at both companies and governments.
The articles detailed the zealotry and profit-mongering at the expense of “users”. They exposed the rampant abuse of our privacy and of our laws. They explained how we and our children were being manipulated.
They also examined the complex divides between humanity and technology, between entertainment and rest, between information access and our brains’ innate need for repose and restoration.
But I also grew tired of being “a voice in the wilderness”. I grew aware that suddenly adding to someone’s inbox, no matter how well-intentioned, seemed just another “to do” in their life.
I also feel that when someone is ready to hear, they will listen. When someone is seeking, they will find. I knew that when that happened, most people would not likely search for old emails, but instead would search the web.
They might search for phrases like “smartphone addiction”, “social media bubbles”, “search engine privacy”, “distracting technology”, or “user data hacks”.
Or perhaps they might seek information on “restoring inner peace”, “tech vacations”, “real conversations with friends”, “reducing anxiety”, “minimalist smartphone setups”, “simple life”, or even “how to read a book again”.
So I started posting my small collection of links here, with the hopes that others would stumble upon them when the time was ready for them.
I sorted them by various topics since I felt that my own experience often started with concern over just one area. I essentially made the lists I wish I had found when I first begin to question my own use of, and involvement in, a tech-centered world.
For years, I heard people speak in awe of driverless cars, ride-sharing services, and even ordering pizza from an app.
Common was the exclamation that life without social media was “impossible”.
As a web developer, businesses often asked me how to be #1 on Google, convinced that without Google’s blessing, their business could not succeed. They felt that they had to update their social media posts dozens of times per week, or hire someone to do it, or else they would become irrelevant. Businesses believed they were hostage to a few select internet portals.
Then, it got worse.
In recent years, “apps” and websites no longer were a curiosity; for many of us, they became a “necessity”. Digital distraction accelerated; digital addiction became real.
Some blame can be attributed to the “smart”phone. In the old days, we used to joke that broadband internet was “crackband”. When DSL and cable internet were introduced, when it was no longer necessary to dial-up your ISP to check your email, when your desktop computer was “always connected”, we seemed unable to walk away from our machines. We would mindlessly surf the web for hours.
Then along came public WiFi and laptops. Coffee shops were filled with people “connecting” to something in the digital ether. It wasn’t just the nerds anymore. Real estate agents, entrepreneurs, writers, accountants, students, and more… all typing and clicking and staring blankly. Parks and bookstores carried the overflow.
When Steve Jobs introduced the modern smartphone as the “internet in the palm of your hand”, it opened the doors for never-ending interruption. Even bathrooms were no longer a place of refuge.
We loved the iPhone initially. When third-party apps were allowed, the floodgates opened. Soon, every website became an “app” and wanted to be on our phone – always connecting us to its “services”.
What is The Techimist?
The Techimist posts news articles that balance the press releases from Silicon Valley. A free and responsible press does still exist; it just gets buried sometimes.
Each Techimist post is tagged by topic. Visit a specific tag to see a reverse date-sorted list of quality news articles.
Another use? Send a friend a link to a particular topic with which they are unswervingly enchanted. You don’t have to comment; The Techimist just points out what journalists have already written.
We have found that the best impact in today’s noisy world is to share a list of articles, rather than one at a time.
For each article, there is a short excerpt to help us better understand the nature of each link.
Why is this effective?
We live in “bubbles”. It’s difficult to obtain knowledge outside those bubbles unless we spend a lot of independent study time, something many of us are very short on.
It’s not that we don’t want to know; often, we simply do not know. We don’t know how or where to go to find out.
We are busy. We don’t scour the New York Times or the Economist for in-depth articles about problems going on at ride-sharing services. We simply use them and hope.
The Techimist enables us inform ourselves about our consumer choices, to quickly get up to speed on various topics in technology, especially ones where we seemingly have less choice. We tend to assume there are no other alternate ways to manage our “digital life”.
The Techimist is not a negative worldview, but a positive one. Kingdoms rise and fall; they are not inviolable. We need an easy way to be aware of the weaknesses and issues in our digital world, as well as the hopes and options available.