And to be honest, and I don't know if I'm just being a snob, but I'm not as entranced by funny cat videos anymore. I really like vacuum cat and my buddy has a blog, didntmeantopost.tumblr.com, and I really like his selective picks of GIFs. But for the most part I'm just not that entranced by it at all.
Will old habits come back over time?
To be honest, I already feel like I'm using the Internet a little too much or the wrong way. I'm just a blob existing on the Internet instead of getting into the Internet, using it as a really good tool, and then putting it away so I can focus on writing or something.
I haven't really been able to listen to music. I haven't done any actual reading. I'm finding lots of articles that I pin so I can read them later, but I'm not actually reading any of it. I don't want to be that. I still get my newspaper that got me through this whole year news-wise, and I haven't had any time to read those or The New Yorker.
It's very worrisome, and I really hope I can slow it down soon and find a new happy medium.
Do you plan on using the Internet differently now that you're back?
I want to prioritize family and friends, and productivity and learning, over just generally consuming and being entertained. And that takes work because the Internet is so happy to entertain you. I want to find a way to use the Internet in that way, but unfortunately I'm really out of practice, so I kind of have to learn it from scratch. I don't think I got better at using the Internet by not using it.
There's a Wired post that [Nicholas Negroponte, founder of MIT Media Lab] wrote a long time ago about how surfing the Internet was a fad and after a while we would all get back to work. The Internet would be super utilitarian -- we'd get what we need then we could be productive and do actual stuff.
But surfing the Internet was not a fad. That is the primary way we use it, and it's rarely productive. I spent a couple of hours last night looking for a new e-mail client, looking for a way how to program, looking for an app to teach me Latin. Instead of working on my e-mail, learning how to program or learning Latin.
The Internet wants to be surfed. It takes a proactive approach to actually be a productive person.
Do you have any plans to take periodic breaks in the future?
We need to learn how to give each other a break and not always expect immediate responses, to be OK with this new wave of people who only check their e-mail twice a day.
I hope I get the permission from people -- and maybe I have this because I'm that guy who left the Internet -- so I can just disconnect for a weekend. It will be hard because I will want to tweet all the time. I'm not going to take some grandiose Internet break again, but I want to be able to do it for a day or two.
How do you see Google Glass impacting how we use the Internet?
I am such a nerd and I want to be a cyborg, and I want a computer on my head and always connected to me in a way. But wearable computing in the '90s was about augmenting a human and making them more powerful in a way. Helping memory, taking notes on conversations and maybe recognizing faces and helping you navigate.
Google Glass is about taking everything in your world and uploading it to Google. It's about using the Internet more, and it's about pulling more parts of your life into the Internet. So instead of using the Internet as a utility to make your life richer and be less interrupted, it's interrupting your life more to make the Internet richer with all the stuff from you life.
Did you have any surprising reactions?
One of my favorite letters I got was from a guy who's diagnosed with Aspergers and engaged. He says his fiancée loves him and knows that's just him. But based on something I wrote -- and I don't know what -- he just decided to try a little harder to talk to her and be more open with her and she really appreciated it.
That was a really cool letter to get because I think you just assume this is how you're going to use the Internet, this is how things are. And just by questioning it a little bit, questioning who you are and how you are and what technology is and fighting back against it, just a little bit, you can change that. I just loved that letter.