The Opt Out Weblog

The Blog for Garrick van Buren's 'Opt-Out: The Survival Guide for This Modern Age' Book

Architecting Distance

“Technology is a way of organizing the universe so that man doesn’t have to experience it.” – Max Frisch

Mobile Mushrooms

Lepp and Barkley decided to conduct the study to see whether using cellphones — despite their portability —shared the same ties to inactivity as playing traditional video games and watching TV.

“There’s been evidence that those types of behaviors that are defined as sedentary are inversely related to fitness,” Barkley said. “The phones now, especially the smartphones, offer access to all those behaviors we have defined as sedentary.”

A Simpler Time

“…Actually, the only facebook posts I can stomach are from the Amish–sad, but true.” -dano414

Apple Ressurects AT&T’s “You Will” Ad Campaign

“In what should be a warm, humanizing montage, people are constantly directing their attention away from one another and the real, panoramic world to soak in pixels. They’re choosing the experience of their products over the experience of other people several times in quick succession. And Apple has a warm voice in the background, goading us on.” – Mark Wilson

Yes, I agree in 20 years this Apple ad will seem as ridiculously quaint as overly-technology-ified as AT&T’s “You Will” campaign from the 1990’s.

Have you ever felt that technology is far less useful than it promises to be?

You Will.

ArmsLength++

“Hell is Other People is an experiment in anti-social media. Using FourSquare, this site will track your “friends” and calculate optimally distanced locations for avoiding them.”

What’s the Opposite of Distracting?

“Spending time trying to distract other engineers is a lot worse than spending time figuring out how to sell an extra pair of sneakers. Somebody might use the sneakers.” – Drew Crawford

No, There is No Pony. Never Was.

Worried that their son was too optimistic, the parents of a little boy took him to a psychiatrist. Trying to dampen the boy’s spirits, the psychiatrist showed him into a room piled high with nothing but horse manure. Yet instead of displaying distaste, the little boy clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to all fours, and began digging.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the psychiatrist asked.

“With all this manure,” the little boy replied, beaming, “there must be a pony in here somewhere.”

– Peter Robinson

Stop Being Such a Good Host

“An optimally adapted parasite takes as much from its host as possible without damaging the viability of the host. In order for us to stay viable hosts for the media parasite, we need only enough waking hours away from media to make money and to spend that money on advertisers’ offerings and/or media’s costs (and of course to feed ourselves and, like, stay alive). Media will gladly take all our other hours. Think about normal adult American life: After working, spending, and consuming media, how many hours do we really have left? Of course it will never get all of our spare time. But it captures more of our hours every year. Media is on an evolutionary trajectory, a curve bringing it closer and closer and closer to Infinite Jest.” – James A. Pearson

Data Baggage

“Don’t collect data. If you know everything about yourself, you know everything. There is no use burdening yourself with a lot of data. Once you understand yourself, you understand human nature and then the rest follows.” – Kurt Gödel, A Logical Journey, MIT Press, 1996

reminds me of the Greek gnōthi seauton.

“Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules and rewards.”


Selling out is usually more a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules and rewards.…

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential-as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.… – Bill Watterson