Jan 26, 2021

digital clean-up 2021

Some software changes I’ve made in the last few months:

—I’m using Notabli instead of Instagram. Notabli is branded as a photo sharing platform for people with kids, but I think the “family” orientation of its structure is symbolic, not literal. It’s the kind of app that keeps you connected, but it does so with good friction. There’s likes and comments, but no dms, no responses to comments, no filters, no ephemeral features. It’s a secure alternative for sharing in ways that send you away from your device afterward—no charisma and no algorithmic advertising involved. Thanks to my friend Jesse Kriss, an afficionado and maker of human-scale tech, who pointed me there.

—I’m using Hey instead of Gmail. I am in love with the workflow structures—a little visual stack of “reply later” and “set aside” instead of read/unread or labeling and filtering for finding things again. So many good features here; I made the switch at 2020’s end and haven’t looked back. I’ve got a much quieter inbox. It’s telling that the one feature that fully got me to purchase was a filing option for some email called “The Feed.” That’s where you can send newsletters and other slow-think, non-urgent arrivals to live as a group—and it scrolls like a feed, too. Chronologically based, pushed down over time. That slower-read gathering was perfect for me because it coincided with my decision to get off Twitter. Which brings me to:

—I got off Twitter, after about ten years. In that decade I witnessed all the UI and feed changes—and the attendant changes to social dynamics—that everyone has already talked about at length. It was a good ten years! And there’s no way to talk about deciding to be done that sounds like anything but self-importance. So I’m just disciplining myself to say: It was a good run. And I’m glad to move on to other public digital spaces. So The Feed, in Hey as I mentioned above, is turning out to be a terrific substitute: I have the scrolling experience of serendipity with some thinkers whose thoughts help me be smarter.

—And thanks to my old friend and former professor Alan Jacobs, I’ve been using Newsblur and Reeder for my RSS blog reading. Reeder is graphically beautiful and so pleasing—another kind of scrolling that I found some of the time on social media, but much calmer. This combo has been doing me right for a couple of years now.