Using Computers in the digital age

Dec 28, 2018 00:49 · 604 words · 3 minutes read

I suppose many people will continue moving towards careless computing, because there’s a sucker born every minute.

– Richard Stallman

Computing has become an important driver in our daily lives. This is in the form of our mobile devices (which power most of our daily interactions with other people) and workstations(which is a big driving force in our work and private lives). The internet has become more accessible and cheaper than ever before. This has led to the rise of social media platforms(engineered to retain their use) for different niches in our population.

Earlier today, I left my Android phone in an Uber. Initially, I panicked and thought that I had permanently lost my phone. Later after calming down, I used the Uber platform to report the missing phone. This did not work out well. I dialled my line severally in the hopes that the Uber driver would pick it up. Unfortunately, the phone was in silent-mode. Since the phone was ringing, I figured that the phone was still on. I proceeded to use Google’s Android Device Manager to track my phone. I used this platform to remotely ring my device while simultaneously placing a call. This finally caught the attention of the driver. My phone was safely returned in a few hours.

In the period of time that I was phoneless, I felt “incomplete”. All my instant messaging platforms were moot, I couldn’t read my mail, and the unnerving paranoia of something fishy happening on my device hovered like some dark gloomy cloud in my head. Needless to say, I was unproductive for a while. After getting my phone back, it hit me hard just how dependent I had become on my devices. This sparked some interesting conversation with the guys at the office.

I have become dependent on my computing devices. Computing devices are meant to be used, not the other way round. However, it’s becoming increasingly hard to “just use” your devices to get things done. I often find myself doing time-wasting things on my devices to just pass time. I think that using “closed-source” applications (which are sometimes marketed as “open source applications”) are partly to blame for this. These applications “just work” and are convenient. They encourage consumerism, albeit in a techie landscape. Companies and corporations that are behind these apps(and devices) collect your data and do “things” with it, for their own benefit.

Some simple piece of advice from my boss may offer a simple solution to escaping the computing dungeon a lot of us are in. It’s simple: use a computer to get work done and have a life outside them. Work in this context is used in a loose manner to also encapsulate entertainment, exploratory stuff, and other trivial things in addition to actual wqrk. The hugest take-away from this is to be objective about what you want to do with the computer(or device). In my case, I list down everything I want to do with my laptop before I open it. This includes trivial things such as watching videos and browsing sub-reddits. The next step I do is to put this list in some org file. I’ll use this list to guide me when doing things on my laptop. Once I’m done, I’ll turn off my laptop and do something else.

I don’t know how extending the aforementioned ideas work out in a mobile device. For starters, I want to install Lineage OS on my android device in a bid to shake myself loose from Google(it’s playstore and other default apps on Android). From there, I will pick things up and continue my pursuit “freedom”.