Home » Technology diary — December 2023

Technology diary — December 2023

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Technology diary — December 2023

Four take off-grid

In June I found out about “Scott’s Pods”, a glamping company in southwest Scotland, through an advertisement on Facebook. You can rent “off grid cabins” there. I immediately book four nights in December and find out that I am the first customer. These Facebook recommendation algorithms sometimes work better than you think.

Since 2020 I have been staying in glamping huts with my dog ​​more often, but none have called themselves “off grid” yet. In this case it means: electricity from one square meter of solar cells, which is enough for LED lights and a few other small things. Cooking with a gas bottle. A wood stove for heating. Bottled drinking water. Rainwater in canisters for washing. A compost toilet. I’m the only guest in December and, as far as I can tell, it’s never particularly busy. I’m the first person to stay longer than two nights since it opened in June. Maybe the number of people who want to live “off grid” is smaller than you think. Or most people would like to shower again at some point.

ALT

My landlords also advertise the lack of internet. There is no WiFi and extremely poor cell phone reception. Outside, the network flickers in some corners and you can briefly look at the weather report. But almost nothing arrives inside. I write a message to Kathrin, put the cell phone on the top of the shelf for ten minutes, and then she arrives. It feels like telegraphing. I have the Chromebook with me, but since it only contains apps that need the internet, it’s a useless piece of plastic and stays in the backpack.

Digital withdrawal is very easy for me. So there’s no internet, my brain says, so I have to do something else. We sleep a lot, my brain and I. We walk around a lot, my dog ​​and I. And I read books, on my cell phone, but especially paper books that are lying around the hut. After a day and a half I finished a crime novel that was four hundred pages long. After three days a second one. For testing purposes, I then read a completely different genre, something with love and children and death and adulthood, and that too just goes away like a bag of gummy bears. I haven’t read a book on paper for probably ten years, and I haven’t read two books in three days for the same number of years. The books are okay, but not even particularly good. It feels like routines that have long been put away in the back of my mind are becoming active again. “Just read everything away, just like back then.”

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I don’t want to claim that reading books in one sitting is somehow better than being online all day. But it’s definitely different. It feels different. It requires a different kind of concentration, different motor skills (turn the page!), and it leads to different thoughts. In my case, for four days I practically don’t think at all about astronomy or telescopes or university or all the other things that otherwise control my everyday life. Instead, while walking my dog ​​at night in the very dark forest, I have all sorts of thoughts about gruesome crimes. But then it was just a rabbit. Or a fox. As I said, not better or worse, but definitely different.

Until a few years ago, every winter I retreated to the mountains for a few nights, alone in a tent, in an area without cell phone towers. Instead of being on the internet, I spent long nights lying in the tent, listening to the wind and reading books on my phone, much like I do now. At the time I saw it as a kind of clearing up of my head, a reboot. In reality, it’s probably just a different way of configuring the head, a switch. It would be nice if I were able to do both at the same time without having to drive to an internet-less area, but apparently I’m not disciplined enough for that. I think it’s because the internet changes under my watch, but the book doesn’t. Change is automatically more interesting in my head, I probably say to myself, “I can still read the book later”. But what if there is always internet? In any case, my attempt to continue reading at home failed at first.

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(Aleks Scholz)

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